Family Tomb by Pedro Dias


Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

This tomb for a family on the mountainside in Arganil, Portugal, is by Portuguese architect Pedro Dias.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

The pre-fabricated tomb is clad in softened black granite and finished on the inside with stainless-steel panels.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

The rectangular volume frames the surrounding landscape, while a plinth inside supports coffins during ceremonies and provides seating for contemplation at other times.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

A cruciform aperture is cut into the roof.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

Photographs are by Pedro Dias.

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The following information is from the architect:

Family Tomb in the Açor Mountains, Portugal

"a tomb is a prison, but also a "monumentum"; that is, an object which keeps the "memory" or the recollection of an absent person alive... and only monuments are architecture... all other buildings are simple constructions for ephemeral beings, technical or artisanal products, not works calling on technique: authentic creations, visionary and inspired..."

Adolf Loos

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

Concept: Sepulchral Void

The concept behind this small, rather unusual but challenging project was the creation of a simple, restrained and minimalistic architectural object that, apart from containing the basic program presented by the client (capacity for 8 coffins), playing in a dignified way its role as a "tribute to the memory " and integrating itself in the cemetery, would interact directly with the impressive surrounding mountain landscape (without blocking its view), by literally framing it, in order to use the moment of its quiet contemplation as a "transmission vehicle" for transcendental communication between the "living" and "missing" ones.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

In the approach to this concept two specific moments of the tomb use where taking into account… During the funeral ceremony, how would this ritual take place and how would a coffin be handled, in other words, how would the "farewell" take place?... And during a sporadic visit of a family member or a friend to the site, how to create the ideal conditions for a comfortable spiritual recollection?

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

The result was the design in the interior of the tomb of an open space, accessible to all, equipped with a bench, which serves both as such as well as a surface for placing the coffin during the mentioned funeral ritual.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

Ultimately, the creation of a contemplative "spatial void", which fulfills the "emotional void" caused by a feeling of loss that can be briefly translated into this abstract concept of "Sepulchral Void"...

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

Architectonically speaking, the tomb is a simple volume that appears to levitate quietly over the ground, clladed on the outside by slices of softened black granite stone and on the inside, on all surfaces, by hairline finishing stainless steel panels, in clear contrast and material dichotomy between the "shell" and its "content".

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

Inside, details like a cross cutted on the ceiling and a flower deposit integrated on the bench reinforce the obvious symbolic meaning of this object.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

Constructive Process

The idea behind the construction of this tomb consisted on the full assembling of its pre-fab metal structure in a factory, formed by steel profiles, tubes and rods (as well as all its stainless steel surfaces), in order to assure right from the start a greater precision in its execution.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

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Subsequently, this structure was put into a truck, transported from the factory to the cemetery, and then placed on site by a crane (on a concrete plinth built in-situ).

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

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Finally, concrete was poured over this structure (slabs and side walls) and the stone cladding was done.

Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

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Project Technical Data / Credits

Name: Family Tomb in the Açor Mountains
Location: Monte Frio, Arganil / Portugal
Design: 2006
Construction: 2007 - 2009
Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

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Client: Familia Duarte
Size: 12.9 m2
Total Cost: 12.000 €
Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

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Architecture: Pedro Dias . Arquitecto
Engineering: DX2 Engenharia, Lda
Family Tomb by Pedro Dias

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Contractor: Construções Castanheira & Filipe, Lda
Structure / Metal Works: Madeljor - Metalúrgica Saraiva Ribeiro, Lda

See also:


The Cross-Gate by
Ivo Pavlik
Ortona Cemetery by
Giovani Vaccarini
Farewell Chapel
by OFIS Arhitekti

Posted on Wednesday January 12th 2011 at 8:45 am by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Greenish

    I hate elaborate gravestones, and wouldn't want a great stone thing with my name on it to remind people of me when I'm dead.

    However, this is beautifully done, and I can't object to it like I thought I would.

  • Alexandra Campbell Interiors

    Beautiful + simple. Love how it frames the structure behind it too.

  • Franchise

    nice… but this one is really better ;)

    Guilherme Vaz Pinheiro is the Architect

  • luxor

    beautiful detailing. you definitely know what you're doing.

  • felix

    poor choice of typeface ruins entire design for me

  • John

    so clean! agree with the comments about beautiful detailing… of course it helps loads that the photographer actually knew what he/she was looking at and kept his/her ego under control.

  • nulla

    Family tombs and cemetery chapels were an architectural challenge until the beginning of the last century, and they almost disappeared from nowadays architecture. We can see, on reviews, many museums, and schools, but not so many cemetery for example. For this reason it is always good to see something of this sort once in a while. Actually, were not the Egiptian Piramids some sort of family tombs? see my point?

  • Thomas Washington

    This is a wonderful designs. So serene and elegant. I also love how it addresses it's context by framing views. beautiful.

  • Timian

    What a superlative project. I've always loved graveyards. They're so often peaceful and inspire both contemplation and a connection to the past. Although my own society has little time for the dead, I greatly respect those that nourish the link between generations gone and those still to come. This tomb caters to both, and does so elegantly and sensitively.

  • Pedro
  • CHiizo

    Beautiful but the whole concept of leaving dead bodies above ground is really disturbing.