this outdoor altar in portugal brings sermons into the fresh air

this outdoor altar in portugal brings sermons into the fresh air

the sanctuary of fátima is one of portugal’s largest places of prayer, and yet, there was not enough room inside its central church for processions to take place. this outside altar was designed by architect paula santos to give this sanctuary another inspiring place of prayer. it uses the massive square, where football fields full of people could gather to hear sermons, and optimizes visual experiences with the breathtaking church tower as its backdrop. the project’s conception corresponded with two significant events: the important religious tradition of the apparitions of fátima, and a visit from pope francis in may 2017.

the portuguese architect paula santos designed the altar to cantilever out over the complex of stairs. the massive plane above the altar stretches out over 600 square meters in total. this fiberglass cover is coated on both sides with a reflective white finish — the official color of all churches in portugal. this expanse is only supported by one block of white concrete at the rear, within which all technical aspects are located. the project was a massive undertaking that required meticulous planning and back and forth between the architects and engineers. this stark modern altar was then embellished by the artwork of filip moroder doss who created the image of christ, joão mendes ribeiro who did the liturgical places, and fernanda fragateiro for his sculpture of the matéria espiritual.

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

the design appears simple from a glace, but as with most church architecture, there are many spaces hidden behind the ornamental façades. beneath the pulpit, where an enthusiastic minister speaks, the altar conceals several underground rooms including a sacristy and a chapel of the sacred reserve, as well as a support area for the priests. another added feature are new facilities allowing easier mobility for people with disabilities to the old basilica, as well as the improvement of the existing colonnades, and the redesign of the staircase to access all religious structures.

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by força aérea portuguesa

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altarimage by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

outdoor altar
image by fernando guerra

project info:


client:
building and environment department (SEAC) – sanctuary of fatima
location: fátima, portugal
author:
paula santos, with a. n. tombazis
project/construction year:
2013-2016
construction company:
mota engil, lda.
collaborators:
vasco novais, renata pinho, carmen estima, rúben domingues, augusta lopes, yiannis romanos, nelson bertini, eugénio maia, magda macedo, fernando ferreira, daniel moreira, victor abrantes, pedro pinho, marco miranda, filipe andrade santos, tiago laires, diogo mateus, flávio tirone, jorge neves, nuno correia, carla gomes, álvaro negrello, nuno silva
photography:
fernando guerra, força aérea portuguesa 

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