Family Tomb in the Açor Mountains / Pedro Dias


Architects: Pedro Dias
Location: Monte Frio, Arganil,
Client: Familia Duarte
Total cost: 12.000 €
Project area: 12,9 sqm
Project year: 2006 – 2009
Photographs: Pedro Dias

© Pedro Dias

The concept behind this small, rather unusual but challenging project was the creation of a simple, restrained and minimalistic architectural object that, apart from containing the basic program presented by the client (capacity for 8 coffins), playing in a dignified way its role as a “tribute to the memory ” and integrating itself in the cemetery, would interact directly with the impressive surrounding mountain landscape (without blocking its view), by literally framing it, in order to use the moment of its quiet contemplation as a “transmission vehicle” for transcendental communication between the “living” and “missing” ones.

roof plan + elevation

In the approach to this concept two specific moments of the tomb use where taking into account… During the funeral ceremony, how would this ritual take place and how would a coffin be handled, in other words, how would the “farewell” take place?… And during a sporadic visit of a family member or a friend to the site, how to create the ideal conditions for a comfortable spiritual recollection?

© Pedro Dias

The result was the design in the interior of the tomb of an open space, accessible to all, equipped with a bench, which serves both as such as well as a surface for placing the coffin during the mentioned funeral ritual. Ultimately, the creation of a contemplative “spatial void”, which fulfills the “emotional void” caused by a feeling of loss that can be briefly translated into this abstract concept of “Sepulchral Void”…

© Pedro Dias

Architectonically speaking, the tomb is a simple volume that appears to levitate quietly over the ground, clladed on the outside by slices of softened black granite stone and on the inside, on all surfaces, by hairline finishing stainless steel panels, in clear contrast and material dichotomy between the “shell” and its “content”. Inside, details like a cross cutted on the ceiling and a flower deposit integrated on the bench reinforce the obvious symbolic meaning of this object.

© Pedro Dias
site plan

Constructive Process

The idea behind the construction of this tomb consisted on the full assembling of its pre-fab metal structure in a factory, formed by steel profiles, tubes and rods (as well as all its stainless steel surfaces), in order to assure right from the start a greater precision in its execution. Subsequently, this structure was put into a truck, transported from the factory to the cemetery, and then placed on site by a crane (on a concrete plinth built in-situ). Finally, concrete was poured over this structure (slabs and side walls) and the stone cladding was done.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Family Tomb in the Açor Mountains / Pedro Dias" 18 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • alito

    poetic, clean, crisp, simple and powerful!

  • ElP

    Chipperfieldian Beauty

  • P. D. D.

    Check this project also on the blog:

  • Als

    I feel that it’s done for people who don’t believe in any afterlife possibility, in any real soul or in any sacral entity. It’s only poetical, as alito said, so it’s hollow and cheap.
    But fortunately not completely.

  • salf

    Pedro, hope you can answer 2 questions:
    1- how do you address, or is there any concern about smells? I’m just wondering about having the coffin spaces ventilated.

    2- How did you seal shut the stainless steel cladding, once a coffin is inside?, your solution is pretty clean, I don’t see any screws, is it welded? A typical concealed clip on furring strips could be easily broken.

    great work.

    • Pedro

      Hello Salf!

      First of all, thank you for your questions!… So, in direct reply to them:

      1 – Yes, there was a concern about the smells. If you check the image above «Detailed Section 1» you will see that on the back of each coffin space there’s a perfurated metal sheet that alows the air to pass through (a kind of ventilation shaft).

      2 – No screws, no welding… In the same drawing you will see that each coffin space door slides (in and out) over a steel tube structure, like a shelf. There are locks in every coffin doors, conceled by a clip on small steel plate, that is suposed to be engraved with the dead person data (name, date of birth, death, etc.).

      I hope this answers your questions.

      Kind regards,


  • Ron B.

    I am the CEO of Forever Legacy and owner of domain. I would like to have your design represented on our site as a “concept” and would be pleased to pay you a fee should someone choose to use it. If not this design, perhaps you could come up with some more???

    Best Regards,