álvaro siza vieira builds hillside chapel in portugal without electricity, heat or running water

álvaro siza vieira builds hillside chapel in portugal without electricity, heat or running water

álvaro siza vieira has built the capela do monte, a small hillside chapel in algarve, portugal, without electricity, heat or running water. the beige-colored structure has a footprint of 10.34 by 6.34 meters and relies on natural ventilation and materials such as insulated brick, limestone and tiles to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. siza has drawn from the work of egyptian architect hassan fathy, who pioneered the use of natural ventilation systems, as the area where the chapel is located shares a similar climate and topography with north africa. capela do monte, documented below by joão morgado, is described by the architect as ‘a pure architectural project’ and marks his first building in this particular part of portugal.

all images by joão morgado



accessible only by way of a footpath, the chapel acts as the focal point of the monte da charneca center, a privately funded initiative that will offer visitors to portugal’s algarve region a peaceful, spirit-restoring retreat. siza has designed the chapel’s cross, altar, bench and chairs, while he has also made drawings for three tile murals that depict scenes from the life of jesus christ: his birth, his baptism and his death. the small structure is completed with a churchyard of roughly the same size, which extends the chapel to the west.



project info:



architect: álvaro siza vieira

design team: álvaro siza 2 arquitecto SA: carlos leite pereira, oporto
gabinete de organização e projectos, lda (GOP): jorge nunes da silva, oporto
frederico mendes paula, ricardo correia, lagos

location: barão de são joão, lagos, algarve

name of private compound: monte da charneca

manufacturers: joaquim sequeira vieira: JSV lda, lagos

andorinha lda: joaquim marreiros da silva, vitalino tomé duarte, sandro do carmo, josé manuel gonçalves, lagos

madilagos: paulo arantes, lagos

tiles: viúva lamego: duarte garcia

woodwork: serafim pereira simões sucessores, lda (SPSS): josé simões

stonework: mármores e granitos augusto sousa (MGAS)

  • What a thing of absolute beauty. And a stunning location.

    Andy S says:
  • Absolutely breathtaking…

    christina de oliveira christina de oliveira says:

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