Bringing the essence of post-modernism to the realm of God, EMC Arquitectura has designed the incredible ‘Cardedeu’, a concrete-made chapel perched atop the edge of a hill, in El Salvador. Located on callow green patch that ultimately gives way to the paradisiacal shores of the Coatepeque lake, the structure in itself is asymmetrical. This unique arrangement is manifested by the corner of the boxy volume ‘hanging’ over the hillside. On the other end (along the land-based access point), the chapel slightly tapers for an entrance, thus transforming the plan into a whimsically-shaped quadrilateral.
The minimalist interior portion of the Cardedeu is marked by the exposed concrete walls that are interspersed by embedded timber pieces. They enclose a simple arrangement of wooden pews – all of which face towards the scenic scope of the distant horizon fusing the lake and the mountains. However, the part that has really caught our attention is the innovative usage of two-intersecting I-beams that aptly support the concrete corner, while also doubling up as a cross.
An array of other buildings is situated on one flank of the Cardedeu chapel, accounting for semi-public spaces like a hotel, restaurant and general recreational area. These structures and both stone and metal framed, while their circulation credentials are intentionally segregated to partially limit the views of the landscape. This in turn leads to the ‘piece de resistance’ of the chapel – where users can gladly focus on the fully revealed grandeur of nature.
And lastly, as for the materials, this is what the architects had to say –
The use of local materials – wood from a nearby farm and stones from the local quarry – tied the project to the materiality of the area. At the same time, the introduction of foreign materials such as concrete and steel allowed us to create structures that project over the ground and generate sensations of floating between trees or even flying over the lake.
In essence, the Cardedeu is all about the fusion of familiarity and wonder. This ambit is accentuated by the dynamics between nature and man-made, thus resulting in varied spaces that go beyond the limitations of interior and exterior areas.
Image Credits: Tom Arban