The Beacon

Project info

Location:   San Giovani, ITALY
Site Area: 4784 sq. ft
Project Type:  Cultural
Status :  Proposed

The Lake Chapel of San Giovanni in Val di Lago is a small octagonal church, built in the middle of the sixteenth century on the shores of Bolsena lake, on the ruins of an ancient medieval church, along the Via Francigena.

One of the stages of Via Francigena goes from the town of Acquapendente to the town of Bolsena, passing through San Lorenzo Nuovo. The main path crosses the city center, while an alternative path leads to the Church of San Giovanni in Val di Lago and then to the lake’s shores. Participants of this competition are asked to reuse this space as a Pilgrim Center.

Rising from the dead, the once prominent chapel will now act as a counterpart to the one in San Lorenzo Nuovo, transforming it into a beacon for the travelling pilgrims. The design retains the chapel as the main focal interest in the precinct. A top up roof on the chapel helps it regain its position as a distinct visual marker. The architectural additions are draped by the landscape to the best extent possible and the chapel is highlighted even further with the accentuation of its height.
A clear, uninterrupted axis is created for the pilgrims to the church. Another axis defines the new functions designated on site.

The new roof installation recognises the chapel as a high visual marker in the region. It mimics the octagonal profile of the church’s walls but separates itself from the older structure by inverting the geometry. The roof, like the original roof, is timber. However, the use of cross-laminated timber is an attempt at acknowledging the contrast between the old and the new.
The added roof is light in weight and allows for light to filter in to the chapel from all sides and the top.