This is Tenerife church in Spain designed by local architect Fernando Menis which is made of raw concrete. The church is popular not only because of its shape but also for the material selection. Though the raw concrete exterior gives the look of an ancient church, the architect had different reason for its design and material selection. Do you know what inspired the architect’s decision?
Of course, it’s the topography and the neighbourhood that were main influencing factors in the minds of Menis while designing the church. Menis dealt with the dramatic topography of the site by introducing a perimeter ramp that gives access to the square and to the second floor of the Church. This building, which was conceived as a visual icon within a poorly planned neighbourhood, rises monumentally with four independent volumes that resemble large rocks. The slits in between them allow air and light into the space. The Church stands starkly, stripped of superfluous elements that are a distraction from its spiritual essence.
Four large volumes separated by narrow glass cracks configure an austere and stark building, which relinquishes all superfluous elements. The bold volume and the precise control of natural light are the tools to model interior spaces whose objective is to promote reflection and meditation. In them, light enters through the cuts with a clear directionality, playing an essential role in mass, and configuring a free-flowing and introverted void. The meticulous study of natural illumination tries to stress each one the Christian sacraments. In this sense, during sunrise the light comes in through the cross presiding the space behind the altar, generating a cascade of light that symbolizes the entrance to the cave in which Jesus Christ was buried, and illuminating the baptismal font, the first light of a Christian. The altar, the confirmation and the communion receive light at noon through the skylight. A bit later, a shaft of light falls on the confessional. The strategic layout of the skylights achieves the same effect on unction, matrimony and priesthood.
The thermal inertia of the concrete walls manages to increase the energy efficiency of the building. In the same way, the combination of the concrete composed of volcanic arids and its crushing reveals rough surfaces with a high degree of acoustic absorption, greater than that of conventional concrete, and which avoid echo. The use of this material manages to address several aspects at the same time: exterior, interior, structure, form, matter and texture.