Miami Chapel based on a flowing dress by FR-EE

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Above: masterplan - click above for larger image

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Above: facade texture - click above for larger image

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