Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua
by Otxotorena Arquitectos

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A rescued stone colonnade stands amongst planes of concrete at this religious shrine in the Spanish countryside by Pamplona studio Otxotorena Arquitectos (+ slideshow).

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Located outside the small village of Alberite, the Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua stands alone on a hillside, offering wide-stretching views out across the nearby ravine.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Otxotorena Arquitectos designed the structure to accommodate both large parties and individual worship, as the shrine is only likely to attract groups of visitors at certain points on the religious calendar.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

A tapered concrete canopy oversails the historic colonnade, which was rescued from near demolition by members of the local community. Concrete supports stand at either end to hold it firmly in place.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

"The building volume is conceived considering the idea of framing the archway by building a parallel roof and floor to wrap and protect it," explain the architects.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

A secluded chapel is sheltered beneath the roof at the rear of the structure. Behind this, an irregular framework of concrete louvres shades a length of clerestory glazing and overhangs the end of the building to create a small belfry.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Other examples of isolated religious spaces include a stark concrete church on the side of a Chinese mountain and a see-through church in the countryside in Belgium. See more places of worship on Dezeen.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Photography is by Pedro Pegenaute.

Here's some more information from Otxotorena Arquitectos:


Shrine of the Virgin of "La Antigua" in Alberite, La Rioja

The site corresponds to a plot on the outskirts of the town of Alberite. This is a 2.000 people village, very close to Logroño in La Rioja, Spain. The place is located on a gentle hill, overlooking a ravine opened into the road running through it. This was a plot of land given to the Parish by the Town Council for the construction of the shrine of the Virgin.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: context plan - click for larger image

First of all, the project aims to fulfill all the program requirements, concerning the nature and typical use given to this type of buildings, which, in its immediate environment, serve both for private devotional practices as well as for popular traditional temple fairs. This is a key ingredient in the way of considering the design, since we are obliged to expect a large influx of people within isolated intervals.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: location plan - click for larger image

On the other hand, the design also takes into consideration the characteristics of the place in terms of geometric, orientation and topographical measurements. It is also characterized by the appeal and width of its views.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: floor plan - click for larger image

Finally, there is added an absolutely fundamental premise: the need to incorporate a preexisting stone archway in the design. This archway was rescued from a previous demolition in the town and it was preserved by the locals. This way, it is intended to re-use the archway and to put more value on it. It was obviously called to assume a main role in the shape and perception of the building from the beginning.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: sections - click for larger image

When applying this set of arguments, however, we can remark some of the closely related choices chained to outline the design process:

a) The basic choice of the creation of a relatively wide outdoor space, which provides the interior of the shrine with some anteroom, protects the visitors from sun and rain and frames the view.
b) The attention given to the impact the building will cause in the landscape, even noticeable at long distances, that consists on a horizontal gesture correlative to the extent of the slope overlooking the ravine it faces.
c) The care given to the relationship between the few spaces created, both external and internal, as well as the hierarchical location of the entrances to the site and confined spaces of the chapel.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: sections - click for larger image

The building volume is conceived, in any case, considering the idea of framing the archway by building a parallel roof and floor to wrap and protect it.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: elevations - click for larger image

For its construction we are to use a single material, concrete, for immediacy and simplicity reasons, considering its suitable conditions of abstraction, continuity, stability and robustness.

Shrine of the Virgin of La Antigua by Otxotorena Arquitectos

Above: elevations - click for larger image

  • Colonel Pancake

    It’s really remarkable how much care and money Spain has put into its preservation and adaptation of historic architecture. It seems like every week there’s a new project featuring a tastefully modern attempt to make meaningful space out of an architectural relic that has long since lost its original functional needs.

    As there’s always a bad side to everything, it’s unfortunate that they simply have no money to pay for all these projects (despite that, this could be privately funded, I don’t know) but in time to come I don’t think they’ll regret the sacrifices it took to hold onto something the rest of the world won’t ever have, even if it has crippled their economy for the foreseeable future.