Hewn from the rock around 1500 years ago, the Abbey of St. Maurice as a defensive fortification was hopeless. Continually bombarded by falling rocks from the mountain above, it must have been perilous to have lived there. But such occurrences were just an irritant compared to the major rock slides that have caused catastrophic damage to the abbey throughout its history. A new canopy to protect the archaeological ruins of the old abbey has been designed by Savioz Fabrizzi Architects. It has taken its inspiration from the rock falls to provide a protective canopy that is both conceptually and physically contextual to this dramatic site.
The canopy is built well above the ruins maintaining the connection between the ruins and the cliff face from which it was carved. On the translucent canopy, 170 tones of rock pieces are scattered across it giving a dispersed and even light to the ruins below. The weight of the rock acts as a load to prevent uplift to the canopy from wind blasts. Viewed from a distance, the rock ads a colour and texture that is entirely of the mountain. Viewed under the canopy, an interesting texture of light is created that enriches the architecture.