Mexican firm Fernando Romero EnterprisE
(FREE) has won a competition to design a chapel in Miami with plans
modelled on the pleated fabric gown of religious figure the Lady of
As a Roman Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary, the Lady of Guadalupe is a
popular image in Mexican culture and the architects explain how they
were invited to design a Catholic Church devoted to her image.
The proposals show a billowing concrete structure with an undulating skirt of 27 clearly defined pleats.
Inside the building, small sanctuaries will be framed within these pleats, each containing an effigy of one of the other 27 Latin American virgins. ”We preferred to open the proposal to other Latin American cultures as well, having represented all the 27 Latin American virgins,” said the architects.
A twisted tower will provide a spire over the chapel’s altar and will feature a stained-glass skylight decorated with an image of the Lady of Guadalupe.
The architects intend this image to project down onto visitors sat in the sunken assembly hall, to “stress the connection with the sky” and “represent the contrast between earth and heaven”.
Additional rooms will be located beneath the seating areas and will include a sacristy, offices and a small library.
Miami Chapel, Florida, USA
Designing a congregation space for the Miami Catholic community requires an understanding of the identity of a multicultural group and the ability to translate it into a representative building.
We were asked to design a Catholic Church devoted to the Mexican Virgin Our Lady of Guadalupe. FREE chose to incorporate other Latin American cultures as well, by representing all 27 Latin American Virgins.
The 27 Virgins are accommodated around Our Lady of Guadalupe’s figure, creating 27 small sanctuaries.
In a single gesture, the extrusion of this floor plan results in an organic, corrugated form; resembling the pleats of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s cloth.
The vertical shape stands out of its context, and the volume is rotated towards the corner for more visibility.
A roof light at the top filters natural light into the congregation space, projecting the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the presbytery.
The main entrance distributes to the main congregation space, ambulatory, confessionals and community service area in the level below. At the rear, a reserved area contains the sacristy, preparation and changing rooms, offices, small library and working spaces for the priest and personnel.
The iconic shape performs an acoustic filter and dramatizes the ecumenical atmosphere of the church, outlining its identity in the metropolitan area of Miami.
Competition 1st. prize
Size: 3,500 m2
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