Sunset Chapel / BNKR Arquitectura

© Esteban Suárez

Architects: BNKR Arquitectura
Location: , Guerrero, Mexico
Partners: Esteban Suárez (Founding Partner), Sebastián Suárez
Project Leaders: Mario Gottfried, Javier González & Roberto Ampudia
Project Team: Mario Gottfried, Rodrigo Gil, Roberto Ampudia, Javier González, Óscar Flores, David Sánchez, Diego Eumir, Guillermo Bastian & Adrian Aguilar
Collaborators: Jorge Arteaga y Zaida Montañana
Structural Engineers: Juan Felipe Heredia & José Ignacio Báez
Lighting: Noriega Iluminadores – Ricardo Noriega
Construction: Factor Eficiencia – Fermin Espinosa & Francisco Villeda
Project area: 120 sqm
Project year: 2011
Photographs: Esteban Suárez

© Esteban Suárez

Our first religious commission was a wedding chapel conceived to celebrate the first day of a couple’s new life. Our second religious commission had a diametrically opposite purpose: to mourn the passing of loved ones. This premise was the main driving force behind the design, the two had to be complete opposites, they were natural antagonists. While the former praised life, the latter grieved death. Through this game of contrasts all the decisions were made: Glass vs. Concrete, Transparency vs. Solidity, Ethereal vs. Heavy, Classical Proportions vs. Apparent Chaos, Vulnerable vs. Indestructible, Ephemeral vs. Lasting…


The client brief was pretty simple, almost naïve: First, the chapel had to take full advantage of the spectacular views. Second, the sun had to set exactly behind the altar cross (of course, this is only possible twice a year at the equinoxes). And last but not least, a section with the first phase of crypts had to be included outside and around the chapel. Metaphorically speaking, the mausoleum would be in perfect utopian synchrony with a celestial cycle of continuous renovation.

© Esteban Suárez
© Esteban Suárez

Two elements obstructed the principal views: large trees and abundant vegetation, and a behemoth of a boulder blocking the main sight of the sunset. In order to clear these obstructions (blowing up the gigantic rock was absolutely out of the question for ethical, spiritual, environmental and, yes, economical reasons) the level of the chapel had to be raised at least five meters. Since only exotic and picturesque vegetation surrounds this virgin oasis, we strived to make the least possible impact on the site reducing the footprint of the building to nearly half the floor area of the upper level.

© Esteban Suárez

Acapulco’s hills are made up of huge granite rocks piled on top of each other. In a purely mimetic endeavor, we worked hard to make the chapel look like “just another” colossal boulder atop the mountain.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Sunset Chapel / BNKR Arquitectura" 28 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • gc

    This project is breathtaking! Good job!

  • Trevdor

    Well done, would love to visit some day.

  • mm2919

    le sophistiqué du dessin,
    la réalisation brute,
    on anticipe un espace dur, difficile d’accès mais serein, mérité, solitaire et silencieux.

    chapeau pour cette démonstration.

  • andrew

    star! :) [thumbs up]

  • pl543

    The shape is reminiscent of Casa da Música by Koolhaas and the interior is reminiscent of Church of Light by Ando. Not a very original design overall.

    • dana dehghan

      I agree with pl543. It it beautifull but a copy from Ando and Koolhaas.

  • musica

    casa da musica…anyway, it´s a nice building

  • SumiK

    @pl543 I like how the author reinterpreted [if THT was the intention at all] in which case there is nothing wrong with that approach too, because you are reevaluating it the given context with it own challenges, why isnt that a valid approach to design..?

    Other than that.. I liked the concept and project overall.. well executed.

    • pl543

      The problem is that I’m not seeing as a reinterpretation so much as I’m seeing as a pastiche of other ideas that are too present in the overall design, instead of serving as a departure point to the design. I’m not saying it isn’t well executed, I’m saying that it’s too dependeant on other buildings conceptually and in terms of form.

  • Jonathan

    What about accessibilty?
    Cool to see only, in my humble opinion.

  • abe

    It’s just a form. Completely uninteresting.

  • up_today_arch

    wow… the best… first prize…

  • Grant

    The funeral business is pretty prosperous right now in Mexico. Nice way to say farewell to the narcos.