The San Bernardo chapel, designed by the Argentine architect Nicolás Campodónico, is located in the province of Cordoba, Argentina. In this religious space, whose materials are composed of brick and natural light, a cross is projected in the dusk of each day. In that same place, which was originally occupied by a rural home, the previous structure was dismantled in order to reuse their century-old bricks which were incorporated into the chapel. This young architect understands that great architecture is accomplished when matter and space are welded to transform form and state.
While natural light is a constant in all his works, in this project, Campodónico will utilize light as main component of his design. The San Bernardo Chapel opens and points towards the west to capture all of the day’s final luminosity, especially the red tones created with the sunset. Although there is no real, physical cross, through the presence of two wooden beams (one placed horizontally and one vertically) on the opening to the structure that faces the sunset, the illusion of a cross is generated projected on its opposite side.
The Chapel of San Bernardo arises from the marriage of materiality, light, and shadow.
In the interior space, a symbolic and even spiritual air is eternally present. This is a unique space, composed only of bricks, under a vaulted construction that took five years to materialize.
Nicolás Campodónico explains that historically it is only known that Jesus Christ was carrying a horizontal stick on his back on his somber journey to Golgotha. So conceptually it can be understood that the crucifixion occurs after the intersection of the two pieces of wood. This is the reason why Campodónico chose to use a ritualistic as opposed to literal cross within the chapel. Every day, the shadows move, projecting separately, until finally at the end of the day, sunset combines the two shadows and the cross forms.
Photograph by Nicolás Campodónico