joaquim portela arquitetos designed ‘cohen chapel’, a concrete volume with the concept of ‘the search for the light’, located in switzerland. the interior space of the chapel was created to be closed to the landscape, becoming an introspection space. by contrast, the sacristy opens up to the surrounding, creating not only a meditation room but also a contemplation space. the designers were inspired by the quote ‘there is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in’ and wanted to implement this feeling in the design.

cohen chapel 1
all images courtesy of joaquim portela arquitetos



the result by joaquim portela arquitetos is a building composed of two volumes, which intersect in a single plane. the main building which is bigger in volume increases its height from its entrance to the skylight at its peak. these are the only two external openings of this space, inviting who enters the building, as well as who is sitting inside, to look up. the second volume consists of the sacristy. it is created for the use of the person responsible for the chapel, and contrary to the previous space, this one opens up to the landscape.

cohen chapel 2



the designers tried to erase everything superfluous which can often become grotesque and aimed to achieve a pure shape for the building that could transmit all the information required for a sacred space. the result is a minimal space made up of 3 main materials- concrete, wood, and a touch of marble- that integrates with the rugged landscape, becoming part of it.

cohen chapel 3

cohen chapel 4

cohen chapel 5

cohen chapel 6



project info:


name: cohen chapel

designer: joaquim portela arquitetos

location: switzerland


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edited by: yasmina karam | designboom