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Competition Reuse The Lake Chapel

San Lorenzo Nuovo, Italia. 2022.​

Is it possible to bring life back inside a late Renaissance church along the Via Francigena path? This is the question raised by the competition, and it has been the underlying condition to every decision we made throughout the development of our proposal.


The referential value of the old church includes both the romantic ruins and the reminiscence of urban days and popular gatherings. These subjective representations display the site in a nearly mystic state, although it carries the stigma of the cruelest disappearance.


This is why we work on answering the initial question, being aware that bringing life back to the church and its premises must involve a series of actions and strategies that go beyond the revaluation of the monument itself and are mainly focused on an intervention that is self-sustaining in time.


A Regional Square


All squares, whether they belong to small burgs or big cities, are naturalized in their potential adaptations (market squares, memorial squares or arts squares), which are not mutually exclusive. Squares are able to adjust in order for public meetings to continue keeping them alive or, as it is the case, to bring them back to life.


Therefore, we envisioned a different type of square: a regional square that can become a meeting point and a place where all kinds of events can be held, serving all four cities located within a nine-minute radius of San Giovanni (San Lorenzo Nuovo, Grotte di Castro, Gradoli and Bolsena). The new square would consequently have a population of over ten thousand inhabitants.


Pilgrims and this whole community could be brought together in programs such as outdoor concerts, themed markets, movies and stage plays, as well as festivals and fairs.


Reconstruction and Reuse


As if it were a boat inside the artificial and elliptical lake that makes up the square, the church calls into question the idea of an urban building, accepting its situation, almost in a surreal manner. Thus, its exterior profile is literally rebuilt, emphasizing the contrast with its new container and its skyline.


The interior, however, alludes to a phenomenological sequence of contrasting atmospheres and treatments that go from darkness to clarity, with material sounds and smells that tend to dramatize the original spatial differences even more. In this way, the time and the length of the stay suggest a slower and deeper experience, in whatever use it is given.


Project Actions


The rigid delimitation of the square through an ellipse that stands on the ground and grows to 3 meters high constitutes an attempt to create an empty space inside another, bigger one: the surrounding campagna, also characterized by overlapped human-made geometric forms that lay on topographic lines. The only infrastructure being made up by this ellipse, with the floor and ceiling being versatile, it comprehends all the requirements of the program, covering the accommodation facilities and necessary services, serving as a base for an amphitheater and providing a surrounding promenade whose horizon varies continuously.

The solid areas that complement the site are materialized through the use of two instances of plant intervention. One of them involves an intense geometric layout of 1.5-meter-high bushes, reminiscent of old sown fields, and the other one, towards the Southern boundary, makes up a sycamore forest that allows the church and square new scales to readjust.


We believe that this set of actions will be able to bring life back to the Lake Chapel, to restore the interaction among the surrounding cities, and to ensure its sustainability.

Lake Map 04.png


María Rovea, Ricardo Sargiotti


Agustín Mauro, Franco Frisicaro.

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