Special Prize Winner: San Bernardo Chapel, Argentina – Category: Sharing public spaces

interior brown brick chappel modern design natural light San Bernardo Chappel
San Bernardo Chappel, Argentinia © Nicolás Campodónico

Key facts

Architects Nicolás Campodonico Estudio, Argentinia
Location La Playosa, Argentina
Construction period 06.2012 - 04.2015
Nomination category
Sharing public spaces
Purpose Place of worship
Usable floor area 92 m²
Brick type Clay blocks

The winning project

The San Bernardo Chapel is a small masterpiece. A sensitive dealing with the location, an imagi­native engagement with the principle of church construction, an equally simple as well as diverse and impressive shape, and a concentrated reduction are combined to make this worship place extraordinary. The chapel is located in the Argentine Pampa, neither running water nor electricity is available at the site itself. Whereas the exterior of the building is bordered by straight surfaces, the interior is characterized by curved ones.
 
The interior, constructed with traditional craftsman­ship, impresses due to the way the architect deals with light, which plays an essential role for Christianity. The aperture that opens to the west captures the light of the sun that one can see wandering along the wall. Two wooden poles are arranged on the gallery, one vertically, the other horizontally. The course of the sun, which projects the shad­ows of the two wooden poles as lines on the interior surface of the chapel, gradually brings these shadow lines together and lets them ultimately appear as a cross. For the architect this is a symbol­ization of the way Jesus went.
 
“In the plains there are no stones or woods, just earth. The brick is the Pampa’s ‘natural’ material, so it is the only material used.” Nicolás Campodonico, Nicolás Campodonico Estudio
 
Made with raw material and traditional building methods, this chapel represents simplicity in its most beautiful way.

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