Designed by B_Rootstudio, the rustic Candelaria Chapel brings a center of contemplation to a hill in San Bartolo Coyotepec, Mexico. Made from local materials such as adobe, bamboo, and stone, the small chapel was positioned to create deep shadows inside and around it, giving worshippers relief from the hot Mexican sun. The chapel is marked by a giant crucifix made of two crossing metal construction bars, welcoming visitors as they approach the modest building.
Candelaria Chapel sits atop a black clay hill special to villagers, where each year they visit on pilgrimage to honor Candelaria’s Virgin. Previously, the hill only held a concrete altar, but as the village grew, a larger chapel was needed. The villagers also wanted something to protect them from the hot sun during their traditional pilgrimage.
B_Rootstudio developed a quadrangular structure, with an inner altar and an open area covered with a peaked roof, which protects visitors from the sun. Local stone covers the floor in both inside and outdoor areas, extending beyond the covered area to accommodate ceremonies. The roof was made from durable local bamboo, angled to funnel off the occasional rain, and positioned to cast a deep shadow to protect from the sun.
The inner chapel was made from adobe blocks, created from the soil and mixed with donkey dung and water, then dried for three weeks in the sun. Load-bearing wooden beams and steel window frames were added, as well as a reinforced concrete chain beam that would protect the structure during earthquakes.
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To complete the chapel, Rootstudio added a giant cross made from steel beams. The cross stands in front of the simple structure, guiding villagers to the black clay hill from afar.