At the heart of the Guadiana Valley, Mertola, a medieval town was coveted of successive occupations of the Moors and Christians. In this context, its tower, historically designed as a point of access and supply to the city, and long ruined now, seems to belong to the site since immemorial time.The work of elements, erosion, almost transforms the building to a piece of nature. From this; how does one set up a site devoid of any building ?

Our project takes bias of the time, it is part of the site as a block, like a tower, also doomed to suffer the stigma  of the elements and to deteriorate. Its massiveness refers to the rock. The tower is a reminder, an autonomous  element, the identity reference to worship. A worship time is history in a sensitive patrimonial context.

But the story is mostly about the interior. The south of the Iberian peninsula is marked by a mixture of Islamic architecture and Christian architecture. This mixture of cultures eventually creates its own architectural identity in the region. It is the confrontation of two very different arts, which come together in respect and harmony.

This confrontation is a blend of sobriety and elegance, of massiveness and slenderness. Inside, by going up the floors, the light becomes more and more present and the spaces are dilated. They first echo the Romanesque architecture with the presence of barrel vaults and finally to Islamic architecture with a final level characterized by the presence of slender arches. The ascension of space that mixes light and makes us progress through several stories to Alentejo mark the past millenniums.


architects: Benjamin Nicaud, Etienne Pellier  |  team: Benjamin Nicaud, Etienne Pellier  |  client: ArkXsite  |  status: Competition (2016)  |  competition: Mertola Site Gallery  |  location: Mértola, Portugal (37.636449, -7.662012)  |  climate: Mediterranean, Temperate  |  material: brick  |  environment: Seaside  |  visualizer: Studio  |  scale: medium  |  types: cultural, museum  |  views: 2.466

same competition (+3)

Benjamin Nicaud, Etienne Pellier | Alberto Beiroa Velasco, M Isabel Blanco Hernández, Clara Sotillo Belmonte | Jose Javier Durán Heras, Carlos García Brome | Ana Santos, João Varela, João Tavares, Paulo Dias