Open Platform for Architecture (OPA) has released designs for the latest in their series of cliffside buildings: Lux Aeterna / Holy Cross Chapel. Similar to their previous project, Casa Brutale, the chapel employs a style referred to by OPA as “Transcendental Brutalism,” and has been embedded into the side of a cliff. The front profile of the building takes the shape of a cross, to be a seen as a spiritual beacon as it is approached from the water.
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When ArchDaily published “Live on the Edge with OPA’s Casa Brutale” in July of last year, we expected it to be popular on our site, but few anticipated exactly how much attention the project would receive—enough to secure a position in the top 10 most read articles on the site in 2015. But what happened next was perhaps more astounding. By the end of the week, the project had been picked up by the gamut of non-architecture news outlets ranging from Slate to Yahoo to CNET to CNBC. For a few short days, it became difficult to traverse the wild expanses of the internet without a sighting of the project’s lead image, typically accompanied by a hyperbolic headline along the lines of “This Beautiful, Terrifying House is Literally Inside a Cliff.”
But despite the enormous traction, with seemingly impossible features like a clifftop, glass-bottomed swimming pool, the project still seemed to be destined for "paper architecture" status. Yet fast forward to today and the house has (incredibly) found a willing client, and is about to break ground on construction. How did this happen, and what takes architecture from viral sensation to real-life construction project?