Gruta das Torres Visitor Centre / SAMI-architectos

© FG + SG architectural photography

Architects: SAMI-arquitectos – Inês Vieira da Silva, Miguel Vieira
Location: Criação Velha, Pico Island, Azores,
Property, Owner of the building: Governo Regional dos Açores. Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar. Direcção Regional do Ambiente
Project Year: 2005
Photographs: FG + SG architectural photography

© FG + SG architectural photography

The Gruta das Torres, which is a volcanic cave located on Pico Island in the Azores, was classified as a Regional Natural Monument in 2004.

© FG + SG architectural photography

With the decision to open it to the public it became necessary to construct a building to support visitors, but one which would also protect the skylight of the entrance to the cave. The architectural project sought to simultaneously achieve both aims by means of an undulating stone wall which transformed into an intricate lacework at the point of contact with the building. This provides an entrance of light which is both filtered and continuous, permitting the uniform illumination of the interior and avoiding the necessity for other openings.

© FG + SG architectural photography

With the exception of this wall the building is coated with an impermeable black finish in order to complement the colour and texture of the vitrified lava within the cave.

east elevation

In the presence of so strong a landscape our aim was to integrate the building, notwithstanding its contemporary design, within the scale, nature and context of its surroundings.



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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Gruta das Torres Visitor Centre / SAMI-architectos" 24 Jan 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • jeb

    everything about this is great!
    you don’t get many sections like this one.

  • escargamour

    Immensely satisfying