Noss a Senhor a de Fátima Chapel, Idanha-a-Nova (Portugal)


Noss a Senhor a de Fátima Chapel, Idanha-a-Nova (Portugal)

Two slopes and nothing more. That's how one could sum up this chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Fátima in the north of Portugal.






Architects: Plano Humano Arquitectos: Pedro Ferreira and Helena Lucas Vieira, Contractor: CZC Coberturas de zinco e cobre
Client: Corpo Nacional de Escutas - Escutismo Católico Português

Technique: VMZINC® Standing Seam, Surface aspect: ANTHRA-ZINC®


Built for a jamboree bringing together 22,000 members of the Portuguese scout movement, it culminates on a high point of the site, enabling a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside to be enjoyed. Its lightweight and rudimentary appearance evokes camps and outdoor nomadic life, as experienced by young scouts inspired by Baden-Powell.



With its gable roof, the chapel seems like a tent with its doors permanently open. An expression of the wish to be welcoming, trengthened by the design of the roof, the ridge of which protrudes towards visitors to shelter and protect them. When small numbers of scouts come here, they take up position under the roof that can host up to 70 people. For larger gatherings, the chapel turns into an altar. In these cases, the congregation sits on benches in the exterior space, leaving the celebrant facing the landscape. The Plano Humano architecture firm, in charge of the project, based its design on several symbolic elements. Each slope of the roof has twelve rafters, echoing the number of Christ's apostles. The detachment from the ground of the two box gutters creates an impression combining lightness and spirituality.



Wood, the basic material used in scouts' constructions, was an obvious choice for the structure, which is enhanced by zinc, a material that is both flexible and durable. The ar chitects chose ANTHRA-ZINC®, which creates a strong contrast with the interior of the building. At nightfall, the black surfaces vanish and melt into the darkness.  Projectors are intentionally located in the structure, concentrating the lighting on the under-sides of the roof, avoiding any light pollution for those who wish to gaze up at the stars. With this minimalist project, the architects at Plano Humano demonstrate how richness and subtlety can settle in apparently modest constructions.