Logan Hanson

Bells of Alcaçovas

Safegaurding of a Thousand Year Art


Studio 2A: Building Design and Techniques


+45 5038 4452



The making of Portuguese cowbells is related to the shepherding of livestock across the Iberian drover roads, and is a trade that has been passed down for thousands of years. Today, there are only thirteen cowbell makers left in all of Portugal, nine of whom are over the age of 70.

This thesis is an architectural approach to safeguarding the dying art of cowbell making in Portugal, by introducing a Unesco Heritage Center in the small village of Alcaçovas. The project provides a workshop, learning center, exhibition, and housing as a way of bringing together tourists and the larger community of cowbell makers from around the world, with the intention of providing a market which allows for the training of new generations of cowbell makers.

The project is conceived as a playful architectural translation of the craft, both in its material qualities and process. The building is carefully set into a block at the northern edge of Alcaçovas, adjacent to a 13th century catholic church. It simultaneously creates a new urban corner in the city while reaching out into the vast surrounding landscapes, where cowbells can be heard ringing in the distance.

Alcaçovas, Capitol of Cowbells

Alcaçovas has been home to 19 bell shops, with only one still in operation today (indicated on the map by the solid shaded bell). Some of these shops that have been retired are still intact and can be viewed by the public. There is also a private collection of cowbells called Museo do Chocalho and a small exhibition set up at the towns interpretive center.

The project adds another layer to these local initiatives, while providing an attraction and an infrastructure for the community of cowbell makers across Portugal and the world, the tourist, and the training of apprentices.


The project extends out from the existing church plaza, with the primary arrival on the roof terrace over the bell shop. The a new corner of the city is established by the workshop and public program, while the hotel tucks into the backyard, surrounded by a tree filled pasture. A light tectonic bridge floats lightly across the landscape, connecting the two programs.

Longitudinal Section

West Elevation


Bell Workshop