Miami Chapel
by FR-EE


Mexican firm Fernando Romero EnterprisE (FR-EE) has won a competition to design a chapel in Miami with plans modelled on the pleated fabric gown of religious figure the Lady of Guadalupe.

Miami Chapel by FREE

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.

Miami Chapel by FREE

The proposals show a billowing concrete structure with an undulating skirt of 27 clearly defined pleats.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: the Lady of Guadalupe and all 27 Latin American virgins - click above for larger image

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.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: concept - click above for larger image and key

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.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: plan concept - click above for larger image and key

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".

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: exploded axonometric diagram - click above for larger image

Additional rooms will be located beneath the seating areas and will include a sacristy, offices and a small library.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: sky connection concept - click above for larger image and key

FR-EE is best-known for the design of the anvil-shaped Museo Soumaya in Mexico, which opened last year.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: stack ventilation scheme - click above for larger image and key

See more places of worship on Dezeen, including a cross-shaped chapel in Brazil and a stark concrete church in China.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: roof light section - click above for larger image and key

Here's some more information from FR-EE:

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.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: traditional plan comparison - click above for larger image and key

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.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: masterplan - click above for larger image

The 27 Virgins are accommodated around Our Lady of Guadalupe’s figure, creating 27 small sanctuaries.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: long section - click above for larger image

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.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: short section - click above for larger image

The vertical shape stands out of its context, and the volume is rotated towards the corner for more visibility.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: car circulation diagram - click above for larger image

A roof light at the top filters natural light into the congregation space, projecting the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the presbytery.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: pedestrian and bicycle circulation diagram - click above for larger image

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.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: structural analysis - click above for larger image

The iconic shape performs an acoustic filter and dramatizes the ecumenical atmosphere of the church, outlining its identity in the metropolitan area of Miami.

Miami Chapel By FREE

Above: facade texture - click above for larger image

Competition 1st. prize
Program: Cultural
Size: 3,500 m2
Date: 2012-2013
Collaborators: None
Status: Ongoing

  • Looks more like one of those ballet flowers in the Tchaikovsky section of Disney’s Fantasia.

    • Markus

      I can make a case that every skyscraper looks like a giant penis as well. Your point being?

  • Frank

    In an area filled with strip malls, parking lots and six-lane roads, this will surely be the most prominent eyesore of them all. Thanks FREE!

  • Donkey

    Woaaaaaaaahhhhhhh… This is too cool not to build! I know that lazy critique will upset some people, but come onnnnn!

  • Roger Emmerson

    Kitsch. Immodest. Vacuous.

  • xzs

    Dear Jesus, why do architects feel compelled to post-rationalize their fetishised forms?

  • Paul O' Brien

    Let’s go to mass in the Virgin Mary’s under-garments!

    • Joaquin

      What a mass. I mean, a mess.

  • klaus

    Well, since it looks and works like a solar chimney power plant, the climate inside won’t be comfortable. Anyway, nice shapes, nice diagrams and nice approach. Sad that it won’t look like it in the end.

  • Pepe

    It looks like the same shape concept as the Miss Jolie Vase by Joel Escalona also from Mexico.

  • davvid

    Nice graphics, weak architecture.

  • galessa


  • joe

    Will his father-in-law be fronting the money for this project as well?

    • jose

      His father in law has nothing to do with it. And if he did, would it matter? It´s not about who the client is. What matters is the result.

  • Colonel Pancake

    It’s certainly not inspired by natural light.

  • Luca
  • john

    The Fernando Romero does it again! Pritzker anyone?

  • Jean

    Don’t build that ugly useless thing. Just feed the poor already!

  • PeterB

    Florida is probably the wrong location for this.

    Me-thinks it is better suited to being called the Marilyn Chapel and being sited in New York. But the wind should be allowed to get underneath it too, so that it can animate! That may be only way to ensure that people think it to be uplifting.

    It probably should also come with a warning notice: ‘May not be suitable for Catholics’.

  • bita

    It’s very beautiful. It’s really art.

  • Bob

    Wow, so uninteresting and the metaphor is uninspiring and obviously searching for a formalism.

    The form of the tower baffles me, any 1st year student could make the same thing, and dont start saying that there’s something ingenious about it.

    Air goes in bottom, out top (duh). Light goes in too (no doi).

    These offices that try to come up with clever acronyms that spell out some meaningless whimsical catchy name are outrightly stating their agenda, to produce meaningless whimsical catchy architecture. What a waste.

  • Carlos

    I believe religious architecture in this new century seeks to interpret and look for significance in simple things to create spaces for meditation and inner-thoughts apart of being a social cohesive (at least in Latin communities). Simple in its form yet complex in its structure, this project shows that though there is nothing new under the sun there’s fun, wits and creativity while exploring form, function, social integration and materiality.

  • Daniel

    This is just WRONG! From all points of view.

  • chapmaniac

    Yet another one-liner from FREE.

  • rem d

    A very clear and pure concept. Looks great!

  • Armandoodle

    I just want to know more about the apparent species of 44m palm trees in the long section.