Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: Site Sanctuary in Monsanto, Portugal

An international ideas contest has been announced for a meditative retreat close to the ancient ruins of Monsanto in Portugal (Deadline: 27 May)

The competition, which is open to students and young designers under 40, seeks proposals to transform a historic viewpoint overlooking the hilltop settlement and nearby ruins into a contemplative destination for visitors.

Concepts may be of any size, may include elements of the site’s existing ruins and are free to go beyond local building regulations. Proposals must include a 25m² entrance hall, 40m² historical display, 15m² ‘inner sanctum’, 15m² restrooms, a 10m² storage room and a look-out point.

Monsanto, Portugal

Monsanto, Portugal

Monsanto, Portugal

According to the brief: ‘When generating a vision for an intervention located within such a spectacular place, it is essential that each proposal emphasises, respects and celebrates the site, while providing visitors with a unique experience.

‘The Site Sanctuary provides a space for quiet reflection and is a platform for meditation, a place for introspection to further intensify the connection between place, memory and profound tranquility.’

Located in north-east Portugal, the ancient village of Monsanto occupies the plateau of a large granite hill with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Several homes in the settlement, which dates back to the Stone Age, are either carved into the rock or built around the area’s huge boulders.

The location has provided a natural defensive position for centuries and has been home to an important castle since before the Roman Empire. Within the ruined castle walls there are the remains of several ancient citadel buildings including St Mary’s Chapel and a cistern.

Monsanto, Portugal

Monsanto, Portugal

Monsanto, Portugal

Other medieval stone ruins nearby outside the walls include the St Michael’s and St John’s Chapels and the Torre do Pião watchtower.

The competition is organised by ArkXSite which recently hosted a similar contest for a cliff-top dwelling near Salir do Porto in Portugal

Submissions must include a single A1-sized display board in landscape format featuring drawings, renderings and text. The overall winner, set to be announced on 21 July, will receive a €2,000 prize while a second place prize of €1,000, third place prize of €500 and seven honourable mentions will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 22 May and submissions must be completed by 23:59 (WET) on 27 May

Fee

Early registration from 9 February to 10 April: €60
Regular registration from 11 April to 11 May: €75
Late registration from 12 May to 22 May: €90

Contact details

Email: submission@arkxsite.com

View the competition website for more information

East Point Park Bird Sanctuary case study: Q&A with Mary Tremain

The partner and co-founder of PLANT Architect discusses lessons learned designing a viewing shelter at the East Point Park Bird Sanctuary in Toronto

Mary Tremain

Mary Tremain

Mary Tremain

How did your project create appropriate viewing shelters for visitors to the sanctuary?

More than anything else, it was about framing views of water and sky. This park occupies a spectacular site on a cliff overlooking Lake Ontario. We oriented the main pavilion, the Viewing Pavilion, so that it would give visitors a long-range view out over the lake to the south-east to observe birds in flight, and a mid-range view of a pond to the north-west, where water birds and wading birds gather. The other completed pavilion, the Bird Blind, which partially encloses viewers, is situated at the pond’s edge. The slashes cut through the blind’s weathering steel walls were inspired by the sunlight-and-shadow patterns in the surrounding poplar grove. These perforations are at heights that allow children and adults to observe birds on or at the edge of the pond unobtrusively, but at very close range.

Toronto

Toronto

Source: Image by Steven Evans Photography

East Point Park Bird Sanctuary by PLANT Architect

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

We wanted the forms of the pavilions to be very simple – just walls and a roof, really – but at the same time, evocative of flight. We used weathering steel because it could be bent into crisply angled shapes, and water jet cut to incorporate text and imagery, which became our way of layering information about bird species that frequent the site into the Viewing Pavilion’s walls. The pavilions are carefully sited along trails to promote exploration of the park. With their angled forms, these shelters are clearly distinct from the surrounding vegetation, but at the same time, their small size and subdued colour enable them to merge into the landscape.

Toronto

Toronto

Source: Image by Steven Evans Photography

East Point Park Bird Sanctuary by PLANT Architect

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a meditative space for visitors to the Monsanto ruins?

Research the site’s cultural and ecological history. If possible, spend time walking, sitting and lying on the site. Understand its shapes and its materials – stone, plants, colours ­– and consider the sanctuary in this context. Analyse the views not only within the site, but also on the approach to it and the way back, in order to develop the location and form of the structure.

Toronto

Toronto

Source: Image by Steven Evans Photography

East Point Park Bird Sanctuary by PLANT Architect