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Photo: Ramiro Sosa

Religious perspective: Santa Ana Chapel

A chapel designed by the Argentinian architectural office Estudio Cella stands out with a very self-assured design in the heart of a nature discovery park named for Santa Ana, a village in the province of Misiones in northeast Argentina. Parque Temático de la Cruz provides visitors a very special experience of nature by offering swathes of untouched landscape juxtaposed by well-thought-out architecture. An 82-metre-high crucifix rises majestically from the park's highest point, surrounded by an amphitheatre, a butterfly and orchid house and various vantage points. A Christian symbol and belvedere tower in one, it commands panoramic views, thus attracting tourists and locals alike. The bright white basalt facade of the chapel gives the ecclesiastical building a monolithic look.  To maintain its cohesive character, the usual bell tower has been realised in the form of a free-standing iron cross. The chapel's stringent form and conspicuous colour place it in contrast to the natural surroundings, whereby its white outer skin makes a pure and innocent impression. Pine timber predominates indoors as the counterpart to the outer facades, with the natural, warm-looking surfaces making a welcoming impression.  To overcome the difference in elevation between the adjacent road and the chapel, a 15-metre-long pedestrian ramp leads up to the building's forecourt. A shoring wall built of local brick fragments flanks the ramp on one side. On entering the chapel, all glances are immediately drawn to the huge cross visible through the glass front on the opposite summit.  With much attention to detail, a warm ecclesiastical atmosphere reigns inside, reinforced by symbols of the cross and religious pictures. The sacristy and sanitary facilities are located in the basement storey below.  Thanks to a striking lighting installation, el Ojo de la Selva (»the eye of the jungle«), as the cross is known in local diction, is a spectacular eye-catcher at night, when the glowing cruciform structure seems to float in the dark. And inside the chapel, the glazed front wall reflects the ceiling lights installed at the apex of the roof, resulting in what appears to be a path of light to the top of the cross.
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DETAIL 9/2021

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