Bodegas Salentein

Gratitude Chapel


Made as a tribute to nature, the austere chapel was built using only environmentally friendly materials. The innovative building enhances the beauty of the landscape and creates a uniquely inviting spot to enjoy an afternoon. Created both for the celebration of service at winery and for the open participation of community, the chapel is located at the entrance road to Killka. It consists of a small chamber with a large atrium, in the style of the old Andean chapels, where mass can be celebrated framed by the magnificent scenery.


The idea behind Killka was to reformulate, in a contemporary tone, the essence of traditional Andean architecture. The structure is characterized by subdued interiors, thick walls with great thermal qualities capable of retarding the passage of sun heat for long hours, small windows, solid walls reinforced by buttresses to make them more resistant to quakes, and an almost complete absence of wooden objects.

The technology used for building the walls is called “tapia”, an ancient technique typical of this region that consists of aligning and overlaying, in an interlocked fashion, rows of compact earth blocks tampered within removable molds. This construction leaves earth on sight, with the marking of blocks and their successive strata, worked with tamper strokes. Old tapias are hard to find nowadays, as this system was abandoned with the beginning of the concrete era in the early twentieth century. The chapel provided a good opportunity to set an example and recover the legacy of this technique that is so valuable in rural architecture.

The Atrium

The atrium or entrance patio is outlined by a low, bench-like tapia wall and pavement made of local materials, including pebbles, chippings and gravel. The sunlight in the atrium is mitigated by the shade of carob trees planted around its borders.

At the rear, two tall tapia walls rise separating the sacred chamber. They featured dark murals of battered tin, the posthumous work of sculptress Eliana Molinelli. These murals depicting the “Wedding at Canaan” define the true façade of the chapel from a distance. As visitors come from the winery, they lend the appropriate scale to the long perspective.

The Nexus

This transitional area, which takes visitors from open to enclosed space, is formed behind the mural. The nexus features two large rooms that hide the facilities and an open space that precedes the door to the chapel proper. Here, one can admire two cubic sculptures in granite by Pablo Larreta.

The Chamber

The chapel itself is a closed, rectangular space with a flat, mud ceiling, where sunlight flows through a large central opening. At the sides, small squares holes permit glimpse of the arid surroundings, the sky and mountains. In front, an abstract plane textured in lead by Molinelli, cuts a cross of sunlight that comes in through an opening located in the rear, providing a backdrop to the altar. Benches made from the gnarled trunks of olive trees are the work of Pablo Lavoisier.