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Monastery on a cliff, Porto, Portugal

Part 2 Project 2009
Jonathan Middleton
Mackintosh School of Architecture, UK
Thus spoke Perec, on the difficulty of imagining an ideal city:

I wouldn’t like to live in a monastery but sometimes I would.

Monasteries are places for monastic life, havens for the renunciation of the world, for prayer and the eternal praise of God, for silence, asceticism, and obedience. A monastery is the architectural expression of a life ordered by strict rules.* The order is temporally defined by the Opus Dei or the Liturgy of the Hours, and spatially by the cloister.

The Thesis:

How to make a monastery which declines to engage with the urban hierarchies of street, facade, front door

How to organise a monk’s life on a cliff

How to make a vertical cloister

How to integrate a public route to chapel into a profoundly private building

*Schultz Great Monastries of Europe

Jonathan Middleton

This project exploits with dramatic effect the topography of Porto where it confronts the river Duro.

The canyon is encircled at high level by an array of buildings which represent the historic religious, mercantile and civic power which constitute the city.

Johnny has developed and re-articulated the anatomy and constituent parts of a number of religious typologies and reforms them into a powerful 21st century monastery, a contemporary contribution to the civic theatre of Porto, which displays great skill and judgement both in reading the city and in how he has understood and captured the theatre and ceremony of monastic life.

Charlie Sutherland

Mr Charlie Sutherland
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