Historic Spanish chapel renovated and
repurposed by Adam Bresnick Architects

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Madrid studio Adam Bresnick Architects has revived the sixteenth-century interior of a chapel in Spain by reinstating a vaulted ceiling and building a timber-clad box that hovers above the floor.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Located in the small town of Brihuega, the former chapel was redesigned by American-born architect Adam Bresnick for use as a multi-purpose events space that can accommodate different community activities, or function as a wedding venue.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

The main intervention is the addition of the new two-storey timber volume, which cantilevers into the space above the entrance lobby to create a modern alternative to the chapel's former choir box.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

The structure only makes contact with one original wall, as the design team didn't want it to overpower the existing architecture. "The philosophy guiding the intervention was to respect time's passing," they said.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Glass balustrades surround the two suspended floors, but the entire volume is also clad with vertical pine slats that define its outline whilst allowing sound and light to pass between.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

An original vaulted ceiling above had crumbled away, so was replaced with a matching construction of timber slats.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

The chapel's former nave is the building's largest space. It sits below a domed ceiling, and is lit by a suspended fixture that mimics the ceiling's size and circular shape.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

On the opposite side of the lobby, a new four-storey structure was inserted to accommodate ancillary functions including toilets, staff areas, a kitchen and an elevator. A staircase also extends back into this space.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

A beige marble floor runs through the interior. The team also restored the building's exterior by repointing the stone walls, repairing tiled eaves and retaining original stone mouldings.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Here's a project description from the architect:


Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century chapel in Brihuega, Spain

The chapel rehabilitation is for a new typology - a multi-purpose space for events ranging from a formal wedding to the mellow ambiance of a yoga retreat. The reconstruction involved resolving the complex pathologies suffered by the original structure since being abandoned in 1969.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Adam Bresnick Architects studied and restored the existing architecture as well as inserting new uses. The philosophy guiding the intervention was to respect time's passing. From the exterior the stone facades were repointed, traditional tile eaves restored and stone mouldings left with their worn faults, including the original scarred Serlian entrance. In the interior three distinct areas are articulated, the refurbished dome where the original space is restored, the entrance into the nave is a mix of archaeological remains and new construction cantilevered over the space, minimally touching the original.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

The fallen vaults that once covered this space are recalled by a new vaulted ceiling of pine slats. Plaster mouldings cutout over the bare masonry of the original wall also mark the shapes of the original vaults. The last third occupying the old choir area houses all modern uses, from the elevator allowing for handicapped access to all levels, to restrooms, kitchen, staff and storage areas. This four-story structure is inserted within the stone walls, a skylight in the stair accentuating its conceptual separation from the original container.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

The materials used are the same as the original; beige marble main floor, white paint on the plaster mouldings, pine slats on the ceiling and to enclose the modern choir that floats within the volume of the nave.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

The creation of new uses for historical spaces, and new employment possibilities in the context of rural Spain is an outstanding contribution to European culture. The innovation of the initiative has been recognised by the FADETA (Federación de Asociaciones para el Desarrollo Territorial del Tajo-Tajuña), a local program forming part of European Union FEADER (Fonds Européen Agricole pour le Développement Rural) program. The total construction cost is €852,000, and is privately funded. Nevertheless the quality of the intervention and its novelty has been awarded a subsidy of €200,000 by FADETA.

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Principal architect: Adam Bresnick
Team architects: Miguel Peña Martínez-Conde & Antonio Romeo Donlo
Structural engineers: Juan F. de la Torre Calvo & Ana Fernández-Cuartero Paramio

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Archaeologist: Olga Vallespín Gómez
Construction coordinator: Joaquín Fernández González
Clerk of the works: Federico Vega Ortega
Industrial engineering: José de Andres Abad
Contractor: José Lucas Hernández
Foreman: Alberto Martínez Gamboa

Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick

Steel structure: Mariano del Olmo
Marble: Incom Pastor
Carpentry: Hermanos Esteban
Electricity: Tabernero de Andres
Circular chandelier: Ecoaneva

Ground floor plan of Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick
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First floor plan of Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick
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Second floor plan of Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick
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Third floor plan of Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick
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Long section of Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick
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Axonometric diagram of Restoration and adaptation of a 16th century Chapel in Brihuega by Adam Bresnick
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