Sunset Chapel

by | 16. Jul 2012

Feature | Religious

Sunset Chapel. Rising up atop of the mountain. Photo: Esteban Suárez

Acapulco’s hills are made up of huge granite rocks piled on top of each other. In a purely mimetic endeavor, we worked hard to make the Sunset chapel look like “just another” colossal boulder atop the mountain.
/BNKR Arquitectura

Photo: Esteban Suárez

The client’s wish was pretty simple: First, the chapel had to take full advantage of the spectacular views. Second, the sun had to set exactly behind the altar cross (of course, this is only possible twice a year at the equinoxes). And last but not least, a section with the first phase of crypts had to be included outside and around the Sunset chapel. Metaphorically speaking, the mausoleum would be in perfect utopian synchrony with a celestial cycle of continuous renovation.

Photo: Esteban Suárez

Photo: Esteban SuárezInterior stairs.

Photo: Esteban Suárez Interior and altar cross.

Photo: Esteban SuáresThe spectacular view from the altar cross.

Photo: Esteban Suárez Interior

Photo: Esteban SuárezThe soft light at sunset.

Two elements obstructed the principal views: large trees and abundant vegetation, and a behemoth of a boulder blocking the main sight of the sunset. In order to clear these obstructions (blowing up the gigantic rock was absolutely out of the question for ethical, spiritual, environmental and, yes, economical reasons) the level of the Sunset Chapel had to be raised at least five meters. Since only exotic and picturesque vegetation surrounds this virgin oasis, BNKR Arquitectura strived to make the least possible impact on the site reducing the footprint of the building to nearly half the floor area of the upper level.

Photo: Esteban SuárezFootprint of the Sunset Chapel is nearly half the floor area of the upper level.

Photo: Esteban SuárezAltar cross seen from below.

Photo: Esteban SuárezAltar cross from the outside.

Our first religious commission was a wedding chapel (2009) conceived to celebrate the first day of a couple’s new life. This second religious commission had a diametrically opposite purpose: to mourn the passing of loved ones. This premise was the main driving force behind the design, the two had to be complete opposites, they were natural antagonists. While the former praised life, the latter grieved death. Through this game of contrasts all the decisions were made: Glass vs. Concrete, Transparency vs. Solidity, Ethereal vs. Heavy, Classical Proportions vs. Apparent Chaos, Vulnerable vs. Indestructible, Ephemeral vs. Lasting…
/BNKR Arquitectura

Drawing courtesy BNKR Arquitectura
Sunset Chapel. Site Plan

Drawing courtesy BNKR Arquitectura
Sunset Chapel. Ground Level Plan 

Drawing courtesy BNKR Arquitectura
Sunset Chapel. Entrance Level Plan

Drawing courtesy BNKR Arquitectura
Sunset Chapel. Upper Level Plan

Drawing courtesy BNKR Arquitectura
Sunset Chapel. Section 

Drawing courtesy BNKR Arquitectura
Sunset Chapel. Diagram

BNKR Arquitectura designed this little Wedding Chapel (2009) in a colonial garden in Cuernavaca, Mexico. They decided to build a crystal chapel using U-profiled glass in the manner of lattice-work, creating a well ventilated space as well as achieving a visual play between the interior and exterior.

Wedding Chapel. BNKR Arquitectura. Photo: Megs Inniss

Wedding Chapel. BNKR Arquitectura. Photo: Megs Inniss

Wedding Chapel.
BNKR Arquitectura. Photo: Megs Inniss

The four facades are covered with U-profiled glass and spaced 10 cm from each other. In the altar facade, they outlined and subtracted a cross from the glass veil creating a window that looks out to the surrounding garden.


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