The Threshold, Site Landmark

   Sagres, Portugal



The Threshold


Noun: 1. A point of entry or beginning.  2. The magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.


Intent : The solid mass of the plateau looms over the sea with its sheer cliffs standing resolute against the onslaught of the water. Our intent is to respect the integrity of this site and the unbroken line of the panorama, while highlighting and animating it -through the conception of a threshold. The form is mediated to create a physical connection between the landscape and the sea, providing an inlet for the water and building up a sense of anticipation as you traverse towards it.

Articulation of the threshold: The intervention takes the shape of steps carved out of the solid rock, gently spanning the depths from cliff top to the surface of the water. Embedded in the centre of the land mass, the void finds an expression solely through articulating and allowing one to experience the unique proportion of the site. Cut into the rock itself, no material is brought into the site for the intervention. The site provides for itself, with the stone insert ageing along with its surroundings. The crevice created allows water to enter into its recesses appearing as if a natural formation has been carved out by the ebb and flow of the sea. With all the function embedded into the ground, the cliff top remains unencumbered and open, allowed to grow wild, contrasting with its smooth rock cut interiors. No man made insert makes the landscape leaving it as it was found with its relationship to its surroundings the neighbouring hillocks, the light house in the distance-intact.


Planning/ Design elements: In deference to the landscape the 8metre wide steps appear lost in the scale of the plateau. As the informed visitor enters the stepped threshold they’re pulled along a strong axis defined by a horizontal niche containing the reception, ticketing counters, cloak rooms and shops. The path leads you to a boulder, left in its roughly hewn state, spanning the gulf between the crevice. Suspended in the air over the stairs it is the only object binding one face to the other and serving as a unique tactile gallery from which to enjoy the view. The avenue of steps under this floating leviathan takes you to the water edge, which has anchor posts for small boats making the intervention accessible from the water as well.


Experience: Through the creation of an intervention that is engulfed by its landscape, both literally and symbolically while being not only a visual but a physical connection between land and water it becomes a living artery to the site, carrying people through it. It enhances our experience of all the elements of nature- the intense colours of the sky, the shifting moods of the sea, the touch of the rock, the pressure of the wind -when passing through and magnified by this split in the land.


Visitor Center, Competition Entry - ArkxSite