Church of Várzea

The studio was tasked with the interior renovation of an existing Catholic church.

“A space was sculpted inside the existing building, like a capsule detached from the outside world… one that makes us look beyond what we see, that prompts us to pause and feel.”

The old church, built by the hands of the people over 30 years ago, has been renovated to become more functional, modern, and spacious, enhancing acoustics and comfort. The intention was to build a new church within the old one.

The church has a capacity for 500 people in a single body. The initial sketch of the design is engraved on the door, depicting “the mountain as a place of God’s manifestation,” and this phrase encapsulates the entire project, evident in the cuts and profiles defining the intervention. The church’s interior evokes mountains, present in the Bible as places of encounter with the divine.

The form developed as it gained shape and life, meeting the challenge of a vital structure, an organism. A kind of building or form that shelters within the existing structure.

A wavy ceiling forms a new skin inside, allowing light to enter through numerous holes with irregular shapes, resembling water droplets.

The entire construction is made of plasterboard, supported by a base in Estremoz marble, thus covering the stone, the lower level of the walls, presented in a book-like format.

The altar, baptismal font, and Christ’s cross were crafted by sculptor Paulo Neves, who engraved fingerprints on the pieces, giving a mystical identity to the space. They also invite reflection and meditation through the reference to spirals, a constant presence in Neves’ work.


S.Jorge de Várzea, Felgueiras, Portugal

Start of project:

February 2008

Start of work:

May 2008

End of work:

October 2008


FCC Arquitectura


Paulo Neves



Photo Credits:



Felgueiras, Portugal

Photo Credits:

Bruno Barbosa