Finisterre Cemetery by César Portela


The idea behind the project
Capo Finisterre demands (at least from me) an object of architecture that is an extension of the landscape, that dissolves calmly into nature, almost as if it did not exist. How can these architectural demands be applied to the design of a cemetery for this place?

The proposal is for a cemetery made up of small constructions grouped together along an existing route following the slope of the hill, without any fences, with the ever-present expanse of the sea in the background.
Renunciation of fenced-in spaces and elimination of borderlines and walls means that the usual means of identification of a particular space will not apply. How can we overcome this difficulty? By using other references and establishing other forms of borders. Specifically, those characterising ancient Celtic burial places: the sea, the river, the mountain, the sky.

The image of the cemetery is the image of a path crossing through a cluster of houses, a snake winding around the mountain slope to the sea, adapting its motion to sudden changes in the land. Along its route are the tombs, big boxes set into massive geometric blocks, evoking the huge granite forms sprinkled on the flanks of these ancient hills: some of them stop at the bottom of the slope, where the land is flat, and the implacable wind and waves chisel their forms. The project imitates the way nature produces its own architecture, but it also reflects the way the local inhabitants produce theirs.

As we come closer to the stones, we see that they are places made by human hands. Masses soaked in geometries, international forms arranged in apparent disorder. Masses that welcome the tombs set into them, like boxes or containers that have drifted ashore after a shipwreck, a disorderly pomerium where the dead are not inhumed in the city, but on an ordinary road far away from the town. Topography, silence, absence and memories inspire and define the project. Architecture is its result, and even its rethinking.
In this project I think I set aside unimportant concerns, unjustified projects, unhelpful materials, useless details. I turned a deaf ear to the tempting voices of many sirens, stayed away from distractions and all that was not strictly necessary. All that I kept was the essential. I attempted to discover the mystery and the transcendence of language in the midst of silence. A silence conquered thanks to the wish to make one¿s voice heard in the vast, anonymous field of architecture.
This is the kind of architecture I like, the architecture that comes closest to my innermost being. Cleaner, more direct, more transcendent, more personal (but less personalised), more strongly linked by secret ties to history and geography, an architecture that wants to find its place in life and in culture, well beyond the time and space in which it is produced.

I hope that Capo Finisterre will like it too, that O Pindo mountain will like it, the islands of Lobeira and O Centolo, the Mar de Dentro and the Mar de Fora, the sailors and fishermen who navigate the waters of this coast and who will bury their dead on this shore will all like it.
And, if possible, I want the dead who are buried here to like it too. 

César Portela













interesting discussion on pushpullbar

One thought on “Finisterre Cemetery by César Portela

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