While developing a design scheme for a new Miami chapel, the architects at Mexican firm Fernando Romero EnterprisE (FREE) have stepped into a fairly uncharted territory for contemporary religious architecture. The design of the flowing, cone-shaped structure has distinct religious connotations, translating the symbolic figure of the Mexican Virgin Our Lady of Guadalupe into the language of built space.
In an attempt to bring together all 27 Latin American virgins and create one unifying ecumenical structure, FREE has designed a volume resembling the pleats of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s cloth, with 27 Virgins accommodated in the niches. The 27 sanctuaries form a ring around the congregational space, with one dominant figure in the presbytery.
The main congregation space opens up from the entrance, accompanied by confessionals and other supporting functions. Located in the back are the sacristy, changing rooms, offices, library and working spaces. The volume is rotated towards one corner, thus improving visibility of the interior spaces. Natural light bathes the interior and projects the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the presbytery. The soaring form of the building acts as an acoustic filter, while the gold patina of the concrete surface along which the light pours into the interior gives a soft glow.