Dezeen Magazine

Ruta del Peregrino: Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

This bone-like tower of concrete by Swiss studio Christ & Gantenbein is one of nine architectural interventions along La Ruta del Peregrino, a 72-mile pilgrimage through the mountain landscape of Jalisco, Mexico (+ slideshow).

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

La Ruta del Peregrino has been popular since the 17th Century and each year around two million pilgrims embark on the journey from the city of Ameco, across the Cerro del Obispo mountain and along to the town of Talpa de Allende.

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

The new structures were designed to provide landmarks and shelters along the route, and Christ & Gantenbein has constructed one near the peak of the mountain.

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

"The pilgrims' column sets a mark that is visible from afar," said architect Emanuel Christ. "It also creates an exciting, almost transcendental space for those that have already reached it.

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

A simple doorway invites visitors inside, where an open ceiling encourages them to look up towards the sky. "The simple yet striking room inside the column, shaped by the contorted wall, is nothing more than the view to the sky, manifested in architecture," said the architect.

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

Despite being a religious pilgrimage towards the shrine of the Virgin of Talpa, the architect also explains how they avoided religious iconography and symbolism. "It was important for us to allow a spiritual experience that is directly connected with an immediate physical and spatial perception," he said.

Above: site plan

The Cerro del Obispo is the fifth structure we've featured from the route, following a precariously balanced viewing platform by Elemental, a stone pier by Ai Weiwei, a ring of concrete and a spiralling pavilion.

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

Above: floor plan

See all our stories about La Ruta del Peregrino »

Photography is by Iwan Baan.

Here's a project description from Christ & Gantenbein:

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point Ruta del Peregrino, Mexico, 2012 Pilgrim's Column

Each year around two millions of people set out on their pilgrimage through the Mexican county of Jalisco, along the 117 kilometres of the Ruta del Peregrino. The route of their pilgrimage leads them from the city of Ameca, over the mountain Cerro del Obispo until the point of the Espinazo del Diablo and finally into the destination town of Talpa de Allende with the shrine of the Holy Virgin of Talpa.

Above: section

In 2008 the tourism office of Jalisco resolved upon a master plan in order to create a better infrastructure for the pilgrims and at the same time draw visitors from around the world to Western Mexico. The Mexican architects Tatiana Bilbao, Derek Dellekamp and Rozana Montiel have invited selected architects and designers to grapple in their designs with the history of the pilgrims’ route as well as with the craggy mountain landscape in the West of Mexico. Nine land-marks are the outcome of this process, among these places to rest and places of contemplation, designed by Dellekamp Arquitectos, Rozana Montiel (Periférica), Alejandro Aravena (Elemental), HHF architects, Luis Aldrete, Tatiana Bilbao, Ai Weiwei (Fake Design), Godoylab and Christ & Gantenbein.

Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein

Above: elevation

The column on the peak of the Cerro del Obispo, a mountain with almost 2,000 metres height, protrudes like a huge bone out of the woody landscape above the valley of Ameca. A detached, organically shaped monolithic concrete wall composes the tower of 26.55 metres that can be acceded from one side through a small entrance. Inside a unique view into the sky awaits the visitor – and the sunlight, that comes in through the opening, reflected from the light concrete walls, gathering on the floor.

Ruta del Peregrino

Above: route diagram