The wild coastal landscape of the Algarve -with it’s dramatic cliffs, constantly pounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the plains covered in thick heather and wildflowers- seems to have evolved a specific architectural language. Here, the rain and the sun and the ever blowing wind are the main conditions of architecture. Where they are strongest and most unrelenting, at the cliffs of the promontories, only a few outposts of man remain. These structures, the fortresses of Sagres and Belixe and the lighthouse of the Cabo de São Vincente, all show the same adaptions required to persist in this environment. They all are retreats from nature. Within the endless open space, they are interior spaces behind thick walls, isolated from the outside. Our proposal for the Site Landmark aims to continue this heritage through an architecture of mass. It comprises of two houses with a strong physical presence, which boldly subordinate to the vastness of nature.
Programmatically, we interpret the task as deeply two-sided, almost ambiguous. While the main (or rather most obvious) function of the intervention is looking outwards, the celebration of the site, there is also the notion of a cultural space, dedicated to resting, information, exhibitions and gatherings, or looking inwards. We see them as equally important to our scheme. Naturally, these two functions each have very specific requirements, some of which are exclusive. Therefore, we propose two buildings, which are exclusively dedicated to one function each. Together they form a composition which offers more than the sum of its parts. They are houses with sculptural quality or sculptures with architectural quality. As such, they are placed amidst the heather and rocks, where the existing pathways naturally lead.
The first building, the Telescope, is a vehicle for celebrating nature.
The already incredible landscape of the site makes any addition a challenge. But in it’s grandness it also holds the risk of making one blind for it’s details. We believe that the potential for a new building could be to sharpen the visitors perception of nature in detail and, therefore, as a whole. The Telescope achieves this by completely disconnecting the visitor from the landscape through which they arrived before gradually reintroducing them to it’s individual aspects. This linear process results in the long, stretched volume of the building. Inside, it develops as an Enfilade of rooms. Through thick walls, the visitor enters a small, dark space, abstract and distant from the outside. The journey onwards leads through rooms growing in size and height. The walls are punctured by openings which also progressively grow bigger. They are carefully placed and slowly allow for more and more aspects of nature to affect the rooms: light, wind, selected views, vegetation and the rock beneath, sun and rain, the ocean.
This is contrasted by the second building, the Temple, which is dedicated to culture.
It is a place for resting and meditation after the overwhelming experience of nature outside and can be used for displaying information or exhibitions or host cultural events such as intimate concerts or lectures. To achieve a focus on it’s content rather than it’s context, the Temple makes use of the same theme of the thick wall: all services of the building are combined into a thick layer that wraps around the central multi-purpose space. Only one skylight pierces that layer, the volume is otherwise completely closed to the outside.The round, tower-like shape of the building