"Pena” is a space of contemplation and interpretation. Elegant and lightweight, the viewpoint sits effortlessly on the cliffs of Ponta da Serreta, becoming a point of cultural interest and enhancing the island’s dissemination of art and public space.
Conceptually, the viewpoint is inspired by Mendonça’s poem “O voo do Queimado”. Like a feather that falls from the Queimado and graciously lands on the ground, the viewpoint creates momentum, an emblematic image that stands out for its simplicity and forcefulness. The viewpoint is an artwork in the landscape drawn in pure rationalist language. The project has been thought of in two main parts: the viewpoint itself and the path that leads the visitor to the viewpoint.
Thoughtfulness regarding features and materials underscores the site’s temper and character and augments the visitor’s experience. The architecture is to be characterized by clear and precise transitions between planned zones and the natural landscape.
A Ponta da Serreta is a geosite where observing and appreciating the coastal landscape is possible. It is a place where throughout the various seasons of the year, the ocean reveals itself in its most extreme forms, sometimes calm and tranquilizing, sometimes stormy and dark. The project creates a series of relations that describe and magnify the unique spatiality of the Ponta da Serreta making visiting Ponta da Serreta a remarkable experience. The viewpoint allows, safely and comfortably, to contemplate and enjoy one of the most iconic places on the island.
Geologically, a Ponta da Serreta is formed by outcrops and various domes of thick sloping trachytic lava, associated with radical fractures of the Santa Bárbara volcano and the Terceira rift. It is a guardian space of a vast natural, material, and immaterial heritage. The access route to the viewpoint from the lighthouse is meant to represent this geological narrative. The path is designed to be accessible for everyone using locally sourced lava stones taken from the existing walls found across the site and used as pavers layered in an organic pattern. A straight line connects visually the viewpoint and the lighthouse providing a strong focal point no matter in which direction the visitor walks.
Midway from the lighthouse area to the viewpoint, a sitting area is designed around a circular ramp that allows us to provide an overall 4% sloped ramp. This space is embedded in the forest, a moment to pause and reflect. The design approach fostered the idea of a material experience, by generating a contrast between the path and the viewpoint, between the journey and the destination. The path is meant to represent the soil, dark, heavy, rooted into the ground while the viewpoint is designed to provide a feeling of lightness, establishing a relationship with the sky, flying over the cliff.
The viewpoint is meant to contrast with the landscape using white painted concrete. The entry to the viewpoint frames the view beyond the path. The object’s suspension generates the central element of the project, emphasizing the connection between the pathway and the view beyond.
From afar, with the slender profile clearly visible, the observatory looks impossibly light and weightless, giving it the appearance of a thin floor rug hanging gently from the cliff.
The architecture of the object projects a clear sense of structural honesty. A catenary-shaped curve concrete shell is proposed. While a straight platform would be subject to substantial vertical forces of gravity and live and dead loads, causing serious deflection and creep, introducing the curve in the structure pointing upwards towards these forces acts as a natural counterbalance - a passive concrete prestress. The chosen form and its orientation balance the gravity and load forces that are being transferred along the curvature toward the anchor point, thus allowing for minimal support and overall structural simplicity.
Both the path and the viewpoint are enlightened using one unique approach. A series of LED fixtures with an integrated solar panel is meant to be strategically hung from the trees and directed towards the path and object, giving a soft and mystic indirect overall illumination.
A Pena do Queimado, an interplay between moments of delicacy and monumentality is a memorable destination. Architectural sensations in true Azorean style, simple yet striking, further intensify travelers’ experience.
Beatriz de Una Boveda, Project Leader