This is de “Vall de Núria”, a valley in Girona, Catalonia. In it there is a sanctuary of the virgin Nuria surrounded by nature, mountains and a lake.

The sanctuary is a very large building, with light grey stairs in the front that give access to it and some wooden tables for picnics. On the left, you can find some stables with horses and ponies which you can ride, and if you continue that path you arrive at the San Gil’s chapel which is made of stone. On the right, you can find the rack railway station and the cable car station and straight at the front of the sanctuary there is a beautiful blue lake in which you can have a boat ride. 

Why did you choose this place?

I chose this place because I have a positive connotation of it. I have been here twice: once during my end of course trip with my classmates in 2019 (this trip was very important for me), and then this summer with my family.

What makes you comfortable? 

This place reminds me of very good memories with my friends and family. Whenever I think of it I get nostalgic but at the same time happy. It just gives me positive vibes from the environment aswell, the people there are chilling with their families or friends and having a good time.

There is some disruptive element?

In my opinion, every element in this place goes well with each other, the colors and materials make sense, so nothing stands out in a bad way. Also, since it’s a valley and because it is a place where people go during the skii season the view is very clear.

Do you think you’d feel the same way in another space right now?

There are some other places that make me nostalgic and happy whenever I think of them or visit them, however, every place is unique and has its own history, making it difficult to get the same feeling in to different places. Not only the memories there make a difference but also the environment and the moment you see it for the first time.

Do you think that the conditions of this space influence its occupants? How?

I think the way it’s all very clear, wide and flat but at the same time limited by mountains (giving a feeling of privacy) makes the people there feel safe and relaxed. Vall de Núria is a great place to go and chill on the grass, sunbathe, ride on the boats in the lake or even do some trekking in the routes through the mountains. Something about being surrounded by nature and wildlife (you may find a cow or two aswell as some goats) makes this place very relaxing and familiar.

A sketch I made from the sanctuary.

REFLECTION- Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor

The author, Peter Zumthor, reflects on the way architecture creates an atmosphere that makes us feel one way or another. Kind of like music. You can be listening to an upbeat, happy, dancey song and feel happy and then listen to a sad, slow song and change your mood completely. The same happens with architecture. We live surrounded by it, so it affects us always in the way we feel. The author explains the 9 things that he thinks make this “magic of the real” happen, which he names: the body of architecture, material compatibility, the sound of a space, the temperature of a space, surrounding objects, between composure and seduction, tension between interior and exterior, levels of intimacy and the light on things. Later he adds another three things which he names: architecture as surroundings, coherence and the beautiful form.

I think the same as the author here, because there are many factors that make an architectural work beautiful or unique, and these are them. 

We often forget that some aspects such as the lighting, the sound or temperature can also affect how we see or feel in a space. For example, you can see a building and think how it is very well made because of the materials that compose it, how it is decorated in the interior, but if the lighting, sound, temperature don’t feel right, it will make you feel much different than if the same building was placed somewhere where the morning light reflected on the windows, feeling also warm in the interior because of the heat the sun provides etc.

An example is the building I have in front of my house. But in this case it is the sunset light that hits it in a different way than in the morning, and it makes you see it differently.

A lot goes into the making of a building. In the interior (things we can’t see), for instance, there are pillars, and beams and walls that we can’t see but that make it possible for the building to be standing and the way it is. However there are also some physical aspects like the materials it is made with and their compatibility, the objects inside the place that influence the temperature and sound as well as in the beautifulness of the space (although that is more related to people’s taste). Furthermore, the work also is influenced by the elements surrounding it, its size, basically its exterior. This is your first impression of the place, from the first time you see it you will have a feeling of it unintentionally and it’s the exterior that affects this. For instance, a big building with cold materials and colors and few lighting may make you feel intimidated or insecure, whereas a colorful, small, maybe wooden house will probably make you feel comfortable and safe.