Site Sanctuary

Arkxsite architecture competitions / Honorable Mention / Team: Patricia Carriquiry, Clara de Cores, Daniella Grisi, Ornella Franchi, Sofía Pirotto, Cecilia Scheps www.arkxsite.com


The historical village of Monsanto has been named the most Portuguese village of Portugal. Portuguese towns, historically, as it is known, have been built adapting themselves to the geography in which they settle down, their cliffs or hills, shores or rivers. Monsanto streets are sinuous, thus there is no orthogonal trace. What is more, many houses use the existing rocks as their walls or even their roof.

The project emerges as a response to this historical relation between Portuguese’s and the natural surroundings. It is conceived as the addition of smaller components that gently dialogues with the historic landmarks spread in the site and which the visitors come across on their way to the ancient fortress; a layout that match better with the spirit of the place.

Main geometry

Monsanto Site Sanctuary is a group of small volumes organised along a main path. The boxes experience different kinds of relations with the hill, sometimes almost floating and others even inside the hill. The path actually reproduces the one drawn throughout the years by visitors climbing up the steep to the castle. It has its reminiscences of the towers and ancient ruins spread along the fortress walls viewing different partial scenes of one of the most breath-taking views in the whole region.


Wood comes to the project to regenerate the visitor’s path. Mainly the floor is made of wood, works in order to enhance the steps during the visit of the building and at the same time feel natural and real, allow the green to conquer in-between.

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The side of the path that shares the main view is made of the same timbers. This time embedded in the hill generating a limit and letting light in in different ways.

The hill is who rules the main geometry, and also is the other real limit of the path. The hill is the contention of the Sanctuary, gives peace and protection to the people that experience the place.

Concrete plays the solid, the volumes; walls, floor and roofs, framing views and perspectives. The material understood as the reinterpretation of the stone, an outstanding element in the village. This “shaped stone” absorbs the colours, temperature and sounds of the surroundings, contributing with the balance of peace between elements, project and landscape.

Inner Sanctum

Sanctuary volume makes the visitors have a special perception of the place by letting the light in zenitaly through the only face open to the exterior, the one that faces the the scarped rocks of the steep hill. A pronounced contrast between the illuminated rocks and the darker concrete planes provides the interior with a special atmosphere, putting forward the visitor to have a moment of introspection and meditation. Furthermore, the visitor here has no longer a general nor a parcial perspective of the spectacular landscape. This may help him rest quiet, reflecting on what he have just learned and experienced from the history of the place.



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