Emerging Architecture Awards

Highly commended December 2004

Manuel Clavel Rojo


Murcia, Spain
Manuel Clavel Rojos moving mausoleum in the wooded La Alberca cemetery on the edge of Murcia in Spain has already been celebrated in these pages (AR August 2004, p58). So it was happy to find that the international jury enthusiastically agreed with the judgement of the editors in highly commending the little buildings deep understanding of materials and their symbolic (and practical) importance in the rituals of death and internment.
A simple rusted steel cross in front of a little tower made of thin slate and glass sheets piled one above another, unmortared, with slightly rough edges overlooks a thick onyx slab, and a thin ornamental pool through which flowing water quietly trickles. Both pool and onyx are on a travertine block that the architect calls an altar where burial occurs. The tiny slate and glass building covers the head of the stairs down to the burial chamber itself. Its entrance is through a tall thin hardwood door on the opposite side and lower down than the travertine block, so that when the door is opened, slightly sparkling light penetrates the chamber through the stacked glass plates. It constantly alters and shimmers as clouds and sun move. This light is augmented by flickering luminance from the glass base of the pool that causes faster transience and rippling of intensity. These two light sources are supplemented by the warmer and much more diffuse radiance that comes through the onyx slab. In the ritual of internment, the slab is rolled back from the sepulchre and the coffin is lowered down to the chamber below. At night, if the internal lights are on, luminance works in reverse, with the little tower a shimmering lighthouse behind the silhouette of the cross. A soft radiance rises through the pool and the onyx.
The jury was moved by the subtlety, dignity and austere gentleness of the composition, which demonstrates an assured use of materiality, space and light.

Manuel Clavel Rojo, Murcia
Juan de la Cruz MegĂ­as