Pre-rusted steel church by Vicens + Ramos features an "explosion" of windows

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Several windows splay from one end of this weathering steel church, designed by Vicens + Ramos as the centrepiece for a growing residential community near Madrid (+ slideshow).

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

The Madrid-based studio was commissioned to create the Church of Santa Monica for the quickly ballooning population of Rivas-Vaciamadrid, a new residential development just 10 miles from the centre of the Spanish capital.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

The church has a linear plan intended to occupy the maximum plot area and in turn provide the maximum capacity.

Aside from providing a parish church, the building also contains management offices, classrooms and accommodation for two priests.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

Vicens + Ramos aimed to create a light-filled building, "appropriate for the subject of holiness".

It is clad externally with pre-rusted steel, often known by the brand name Corten, which gives the building a rich red-orange tone. Other buildings to feature this material range from an architecture school to a barn extension.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

The cluster of north-facing windows project in all directions from one end of the block, allowing plenty of indirect light to filter into the worship space.

At the other end of the building, the structure tapers off in a curve that follows the path of a twist in the road.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

Inside the building, pews are arranged in rows across the split-level floor so that they face the windows, which are finished internally in white and gold.



"The trap formed by the skylights is light's special gift given to matter, so when both come into contact, matter infinitely disappears," said the architects.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

Panels of black polished granite surrounds the congregation area, drawing attention up to the white walls and openings.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

"This evocative contrast allows you to enter all the needs of the facilities in dense black and whiteness, leaving it wounded only by crack of light," said the studio.

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos

A series of sculptures and liturgical furnishings in muted pastel tones were designed and created by artists José Luis Sánchez, Javier Viver, José Manuel Cirino, Fernando Pagola, Javier Martinez and Jose Antonio Ramos.

Photography is by Pablo Vicens.


Project credits:

Authors: Ignacio Vicens y Hualde and José Antonio Ramos Abengózar
Collaborating architects: Fernando Gil, Agustín Toledano, Roberto Rodríguez-Paraja, Jesús Gómez, Desirée González, Pablo Gutiérrez, Romina Barbieri, Tibor Martín, Patricia de Elena and Raúl Rodríguez

Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos
Plan – click for larger image
Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos
Long section – click for larger image
Church of Santa Monica by Vicens and Ramos
Cross section – click for larger image
  • Marcelo

    Does Dezeen know this was built about 9 or 10 years ago? It’s not new.

  • Doubtful Dodger

    Staggeringly beautiful! The interior plays with light expertly while the exterior is just about the strangest thing I have ever seen, which is no bad thing when done as well as this.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Rusted steel is so 1970.

    • guisforyou

      So anything built in the 1970s is no longer signifiant? Or the 1870s? Or the 1770s? Or the 1670s? Or the 1570s? Etcetera. Or is it according to the Mayan calendar or Chinese?

      • Concerned Citizen

        Sorry to shoot so far over your head.

    • Meme

      Most materials are so “something”.

  • Leo

    I wonder how one will ever be able to wash those windows, but I love them anyway.

  • Transit91

    I visited this church four years ago. It was a truly spiritual experience, for a heavily hungover student.