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The idea is to reuse and reimagine the sunken church of Sant Romà de Sau to provide an architectural beacon for the area that will attract short stay visitors and act as a gathering point. The building should also provide a space for meditation and reflection for visitors and the local community to come and step out of their everyday troubles, with a close connection to the surrounding nature and scenery.

Considering the current environmental crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic that we are experiencing globally, it is important that we use our expertise as designers to create considerate and thoughtful sustainable architecture that feeds and nourishes both the earth and us as people. With this in mind, we are asking for applicants to design a piece of vernacular architecture that will be environmentally conscious with a minimal carbon footprint. It should set an example for how architecture can work with the surrounding landscape and benefit areas such as this protected natural park.


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El Pantà de Sau - A Beacon for Cultural Heritage

The idea is to provide a piece of iconic architecture for the area that will act as a beacon to attract visitors and be a recognisable symbol of the area, reflecting or incorporating the famous church that sits, partially submerged, in the reservoir.

El Pantà de Sau and its sunken church is one of the most prominent features of its kind across the whole of Spain. The valley in which it lies was home to the small village of Sant Romà de Sau which is now submerged beneath the reservoir, apart from the Church steeple, which is still visible when the water level is low. The reservoir is one of many that provides water for Catalonia’s Capital city, Barcelona and is therefore of huge importance to the area. The reservoir sits within Les Guilleries national park, a protected area spread across 8,300 hectares of the prePyrenees within central Catalonia. Its mountainous landscape is made up of tree topped undulating mountains and dramatic sheer cliff edges. Steeped in nature, activities and rich history, the area has become a haven for the people of Catalonia and visitors to the region.

The design is open to interpretation, and we want designers to be as creative as possible. We have purposely not set a strict brief as we are interested to see what each individual/team creates with just the idea of a vernacular and environmentally conscious design and how these decisions are justified within the submission. In addition to the sustainability considerations of the materials and construction, the proposal should include important water saving and recycling measures that are more important than ever given the harsh drought that Catalonia is currently facing.

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