Cardedeu Chapel by EMC Arquitectura 21_archute

Cardedeu Chapel by EMC Arquitectura Overlooks the Lake to Depict Endless Relationship with Water

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

Tucked inside the mountains that surround a famous lake called Coatepeque in El Salvador, this chapel overlooks breath-taking waters with a surreal sense of form. It is built within a large open space and on site are complimentary spaces like a restaurant among others. It is a very simple form, but privileged with the spectacular views towards the lake and the highs of the mountain.

Cardedeu Chapel by EMC Arquitectura 18_archute

When seated inside the chapel, there is only one place you could look – the lake. And yet perhaps it feels so befitting it be so, as you connect with your religious sense, to avoid other distractions that may come from adding so much complexity in the chapel. The architects, EMC Arquitectura, insist that simplicity was the approach towards the whole project, and the chapel is representation of that, as well as a culmination towards a higher power by having it designed furthest from other spaces and with clear intention to create a relationship with the lake.

Cardedeu Chapel by EMC Arquitectura 4_archute

Circulation between the spaces on the site is intentionally fragmented to ensure users absorb the full scenic beauty of the mountains, lake and site itself. The architects call it a relationship between the built and the natural, and a kind of dissolving limit between the interior and exterior.

Cardedeu Chapel by EMC Arquitectura 14_archute

Local materials were used to develop the complex. Wood was acquired from a nearby farm while stones were dug from a quarry nearby. The goal is to ensure the materiality of the project is contextually informed. Foreign materials are not left out though, with concrete and steel being used to float the project over the ground.

Cardedeu Chapel by EMC Arquitectura 9_archute

The chapel exudes a particular roughness in form and materials. Its interiors have seating furniture for the congregation and an altar that appears to float towards the pool of water. Its walls are rough with the feel of concrete, and the whole project in totality appears like it is subdued so that nature in the shape of a lake and mountains can stand out. It feels like a structure floating within the trees and overlooking the lake with a strong depiction of magnificence.

Cardedeu from Fernando Vilanova on Vimeo.

Project Information
Architects: EMC Arquitectura
Location: Lago de Coatepeque, El Salvador
Area: 2446.0 sqm
Project Year: 2012
Photography: Tom Arban, Cortesía de Unknown

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.