fbpx

Concrete finish inspired by volcanic rock: The Holy Redeemer Church and Community Centre

by Madelein
Concrete finish inspired by volcanic rock:  The Holy Redeemer Church and Community Centre

The Holy Redeemer Church and Community Centre, inspired by the geology of the volcanic island, is embedded in the ground and rises with its four massive volumes resembling large restless rocks. The rough texture of the exposed concrete strikes a sharp contrast with the conventional residential context where it goes up.

The construction

The construction of The Holy Redeemer Church took more than 15 years, and it has overlapped with the transformation process of Las Chumberas. This neighbourhood consists of 670 homes from the 1970s, organised into 42 blocks, with shopping centres and industrial buildings added at a later stage. It is supported by the Bishopric of Tenerife, the initiator of the project, as well as patrons and residents.

Design serves as catalyst for change

The architect, Fernando Menis, conceived the church as a necessary catalyst for the urban and social changes that were taking place in the neighbourhood. In his vision, the new building should create a place where there was none and contribute to giving Las Chumberas an identity of its own, establishing itself as a reference space in a confusing urban fabric.

The resulting compound includes a church, a community centre and a public square surrounded by greenery, which is a public meeting place that the neighbourhood needed.

The building is also an example of collective action since the financing of the works has been carried out through donations from various organisations, many neighbours and some businessmen committed to the neighbourhood where they were born and grew.

The logic of the project

The uneven rhythm of remittances received to fund the project determined the design and construction timeline  of the project and its subsequent execution: A compound made up of four independent modules plus their surroundings, had to be delivered in phases. The community centre, which is housed in two of the four volumes, was completed in 2008 and has been in use ever since while waiting to raise the necessary funds for the rest of the works.

Low-tech innovation with concrete and stone

The building, inspired by the geology of the volcanic island, is embedded in the ground and rises with its four massive volumes resembling large restless rocks. The rough texture of the exposed concrete strikes a sharp contrast with the conventional residential context where it goes up. It is like a geological phenomenon had occurred on the outskirts, as if nature was fighting against banality.

Its petrous volumes are separated by narrow cracks filled with sculptural structures made of metal and glass, through which daylight enters the building to configure an austere and stark compound, which relinquishes all superfluous elements.

Representation of the Christian sacraments

Daylight filters down through the cuts to shape a free-flowing and introverted void and plays an essential role in mass by stressing each of the Christian sacraments. At sunrise, the light comes in through the cross as a cascade of light that fills the space behind the altar to symbolise the entrance to the cave in which Jesus Christ was buried and illuminates the baptismal font, the first light of a Christian.

Daylight filters down through the cuts and plays an essential role in each of the Christian sacraments

The altar, the confirmation and the communion receive light at noon through the skylight. Later, a shaft of light falls on the confessional. The strategic layout of the skylights achieves the same effect on unction, matrimony and priesthood.

Concrete, the hero

The rough texture of the exposed concrete strikes a sharp contrast

The use of concrete as the main material in this building addresses several aspects at the same time: Exterior, interior, structure, form, matter and texture. It is a common material, accessible locally, which allows the architect to work only with local companies and materials, following the “Km 0” architecture principles to which Menis adheres.

Secondly, the energy efficiency provided by concrete, due to its isotropic nature, is enhanced by the thermal inertia of the thick solid walls. Menis experiments here with the acoustic potential of the concrete and demystifies the common belief that concrete is acoustically inferior to other materials such as wood.

Acoustics

In terms of acoustics, concrete has been used here in two ways: For diffusion, conventional exposed concrete was used, while for absorption, the surface of the exposed concrete previously mixed with light porous volcanic stone (picón) was chipped. The acoustics thus achieved resemble the usual in the opera, suitable for speech and song, ideally designed for a building that combines ecclesiastical and social functions.

An award-winning building

While still under construction, the Holy Redeemer Church and Community Centre of Las Chumberas was visited by Barry Bergdoll, then chief curator of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who included the project in the MoMA architecture collection. A decade later, the building received an honour award from the Faith & Form International Award for Religious Art and Architecture within the “Religious architecture: New facilities” category.

About the Holy Redeemer Church, the jury comments: “This is amazing work. It appears as if blocks of stone have been chiselled and hollowed out to create spiritual spaces in their use of light and texture. It creates intimacy and warmth. The interior surfaces also enhance the acoustics. Structural components are expressive. There is particular attention on acoustics and daylighting.”

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to www.archdaily.com for the information in this editorial.

For more international projects like these, subscribe to our free magazine on http://tiny.cc/fwsubs

Sign up for our newsletter: https://www.buildinganddecor.co.za/ or join other discussions on http://www.facebook.com/buildinganddecor, http://www.twitter.com/buildingdecor and https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/10172797/

You may also like