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Residential Architecture


Ubicación: Montemorelos, Nuevo León


Año: 2022


Área: 160 metros cuadrados


The spirituality, men’s intimate dimension, calls for a respectful and perceptive architectural approach. The in-depth study of Christian liturgy and the northeastern countryside founded the design process of this project. To reach an applicable proposal, we observed respective religious protocols and rural settings: we analyzed solar path, wildlife, the seven sacraments, and the Catholic Mass ceremonial rites. The “Capilla San José” is the solution where faith and the countryside coexist in the same celebrational space.

The San José Chapel revisits the architectural heritage of Northeastern Mexican religious temples. Starting from a cross shape plan and on it two guiding axes are traced: one spiritual and the other natural.  The center becomes the most important place, being here where both axes intersect. As a result, we obtained a project surrounded by green areas and divided into three main zones: the lobby (narthex), the central nave and the rear.



GIF, intersección de ejes en la iglesia, expliación de planta en cruz


The chapel is a space of tranquility and celebration: a meditation place, a sharing place, a communicating vessel, and an introspection refuge. The medley of these translates into the project volumetry. Three individual volumes that together become one.

PNG de visualización de volumetria, volumetría de proyecto, tres bloques

Architectural plant


The blocks placed on the extremes are great monoliths of solemn expression. They are closed, heavy, and wide units with a gable roof, as historic tradition dictates. The first unit acts as a lobby, while the last serves as a lavatory and a religious instruments storage. They are transition areas. Both of these volumes hold and embrace the central hall. The central hall is see-through, elongated, and light. Shorter than its counterparts, it emphasizes their different nature: this nave is open, warm, and splendid. Wood cladding pillars and rectangular glass windows frame it. 


The “Madre Tierra” expanse field is visible from the parishioners’ benches. They can see the outline of healthy trees, the flat line of the cultivated field, and the floating clouds. The architecture extends the chapel and allows the countryside to come in. In this central nave, masses and religious coexistence take place.

There was a need for the connections to be solved in a subtle and refined way. So it could allow the project to be understandable as a full proposal, and as a linking of the three autonomous units. Thus, the proposal resolved the union of volumes with long and narrow, clean windows that allow daylight to enter and ease the diffusion between the various spaces of the chapel, creating a balance among them, therefore building a synergy of transparency and strength.

The scale refrains the project from monumentality; it seeks to be intimate and accessible. The dimensions fit the human body and senses. The volumetry tries to communicate a welcoming feeling to any guest either it is the priest, parishioners, or marauders.

The chapel was designed with the programmatic intention to cover the seven sacraments. The lobby, also known as the narthex, has a confessional booth to practice Confession to the left, and a wall reserved for funeral alcoves to the right. 


The central hall can house up to sixty persons, understanding the possible celebration of the Confession, Holy Orders, and Matrimony within it. Likewise, it has a baptismal font to perform the first sacrament.

Lights and materials

 It was on the fourth day, that God created the sun, and the moon and spared the sky with stars, reflecting light into the night. Inspired by this biblical event, the leaning slabs in the lobby were perforated strategically, opening small skylights that simulate a starry night. The lobby is a closed and compact unit, in its solemn darkness, illuminated by natural light that enters through cavities in the ceiling, creating the illusion that the sky and the stars are receiving the chapel guests instead of the polished concrete slab. 

The local countryside holds a warm simplicity in its landscapes and routines: the time seems to flow calmer between the rivers and the grass. Through the use of materials and light, this project searches to imitate the countryside virtues. Using travertine to wrap and extol the altar, natural pine to cover the ceilings, polished concrete in the floors, and site stone masonry for the central nave parapets. Sandy dun pigmented stucco encases the external faces of the building. The materials are hard but warm, simple but elegant, and exposed in their minimal and natural form. The material nature of this project looks for, in the end, to grant shelter to the beholder.

We created transparency and seriousness with the light. The window planes located between the volumes' connections allow filling the central nave with a diffused light, elevating the altar.

San José Chapel is defined as a fusion project: the extensive calm of the countryside converges with the traditional rites of human religion. The approach of the project, from its conception to its execution, was designed to commemorate the human spiritual dimension. Whether through the use of honest materiality, vast natural light, a transparent and dense volume, or an intimate and accessible scale, all the design decisions were channeled to create a space where it was possible to connect with oneself, with others and with the universe that surrounds us. 

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