Text description provided by the architects. A hill in a city of Juiz de Fora, Brazil was chosen to build the chapel of Recanto Manresa. The choosing of the location took into consideration the different scenarios formed by the mountains of Minas Gerais. From inside the chapel it is possible to see different natural landscapes, sunsets behind the mountain facing west. In this manner, the surrounding landscapes are transformed into paintings, that inspire meditation and contemplative states for the visitors .
The chapel's materials are austere yet well-thought. Rammed earth –or tapia in Portuguese– employed in the walls, covered with a reinforced concrete slab with a wood-texture finishing and the full-length windows, which can be fully opened. The lighting design to create a different ambiance for each occasion: dimmer lighting for small gatherings and functional lighting for religious ceremonies. At night, the lighting illuminates the landscape of the native vegetation of the place. The religious paintings by Brazilian artist Anderson Augusto were commissioned for this project which also have their own focal lighting.
When designing the chapel and thinking about how it will be used, I thought about making use of the materials that would blend in the environment in a noble way. My aim was to intervene as little as possible the original space. The ask was to design a place of cult and retreat. In the Catholic Christian tradition, eight is a symbolic number of resurrection and recommencing. It was in this way, that I came up with the octagonal design for the chapel.
The decision was to build three walls and two central pillars of rammed earth and five glass walls that allow the total opening of the front of the chapel to receive a greater number of people and also to free flow of air inside the chapel. I've always had a personal and deep interest in religions and their motifs of belief and how a space shapes the experience of belief.