Monsanto Mirror | Meditation Retreat | Monsanto, Portugal | 2017 | Unbuilt


Monsanto and its surrounding landscape are unique topographically and historically. Therefore, the site inspires a strategy which is respectful to the existing context. Monsanto Mirror aims to use the technique of reflection to emphasize an appreciation for Monsanto’s oscillating topography, rich material expression, and spiritual capacity.

The existing typological forms of the three chapels, St. Michael’s, St. John’s, and St. Mary’s, are reappropriated and reanimated as seen in the Watchtower, Sanctuary, and Lookout, creating a sequence which progresses from sheltered space to open ruin. The sequence begins at an archway which mimics the symbolic meaning of the arch at St. Mary’s. Together, they define a beginning and end to the viewer’s journey.

Reflectivity as tectonic pays homage to the importance of the spiritual context as well as the program of Site Sanctuary. The mirrored surfaces produce an effect which is simultaneously spatially liberating and visually unobtrusive. Monsanto Mirror establishes relationships between the existing and proposed spaces, analogous to the way one traverses Monsanto today, circuitously, and by foot. Through minimal additions Monsanto Mirror is able to capitalize on latent phenomena, suspending the contemplative viewer between the ruins of the past and Monsanto’s resurrected second life.

Project Team: Daisy Ames and Drew Heller