Function: sacral space, pilgrim accommodation

Location: Val di Lago (Italy)

Year: 2022

Type: international competition

In collaboration with Zsófia Miklós

Once the church of San Giovanni in Val di Lago stood in the old town of San Lorenzo and nowadays only this small church reminds us of the former settlement. The church has lost its orginal context and it became a monument, which stands on a field, surrounded by pasture lands and some olive trees. The area is almost flat and there are not any vertical signs on the meadow.

A compact solution was sought to solve the covering of the sacral space, to give place for pilgrim activities and to recall the aesthetic feeling of the former dome. New buildings were not added to the area around the church, the restored dome contains all added funtions. To evoke the former town of San Lorenzo, an olive grove is planted around the church. This solution can give an answer for the use of the place nowadays, furthermore the olive tree has a connotation with Christianity. Directly around the church there is an open space, which can be interpreted as a square-like place, where the pilgrims can meet each other. The place does not want to be urban, since the the town does not exist any more.

The new dome lies on the existing walls, giving the new ceiling of the church. It is made of wooden beams and massive timber panels. The beams are thick at the existing stone walls and they are getting thinner towards the middle of the ceiling. A new floor of the chapel is made of massive octogonal timber logs that run out of the church to connect it with the pilgrim way. The furnitures of the church are made of wood and electrical heating is integrated into the benches. The sacral space is redesigned: the pulpit stands near the sanctuary, so that it is better visible for believers.

The shape of the dome reminds us of Renaissance coverage. It has a wooden structure, which follows the form of the ocotogal floor plan of the church. It is an open air structure, but can be windshield by textile blinds. Floors are connected to each other by spiral staircases.

On the first floor there is the auditorium with an open space entrance. Around the space there is a bench, which is integrated in the building structure. On the second floor there are restrooms, kitchen and common dining spaces. The dining area and the kitchen are placed in niches.

On the third floor there are accommodation for ten people. The beds are placed in niches and there are two beds per recess. At the „entrance“ of the floor a small living room is installed.

Spaces in the reinterpretated dome can be reached by a staircase, which is placed behind the volume of the sanctuary. The stairs can be accessed from the olive grove. The staircase and the new dome-like extension is connected with a bridge, where the whole area (inclusively the Lake Bolsena) is visible from.

The new dome, the bridge and the outdoor staircase are covered with corten steel panels which make a contrast with the existing stone walls.

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