Architects: Otxotorena Arquitectos
Location: Alberite, La Rioja, Spain
Architect In Charge: Juan M. Otxotorena
Collaborator Architects: Andrés Ayesa, Carlos Díaz
Structural Engineer: Fernando Sarría
Construction Company: José Luis Sáenz Ausejo
Area: 122,5 sqm
Photographs: Pedro Pegenaute
The site corresponds to a plot on the outskirts of the town of Alberite. This is a 2.000 people village, very close to Logroño in La Rioja, Spain. The place is located on a gentle hill, overlooking a ravine opened into the road running through it. This was a plot of land given to the Parish by the Town Council for the construction of the shrine of the Virgin.
First of all, the project aims to fulfill all the program requirements, concerning the nature and typical use given to this type of buildings, which, in its immediate environment, serve both for private devotional practices as well as for popular traditional temple fairs. This is a key ingredient in the way of considering the design, since we are obliged to expect a large influx of people within isolated intervals.
On the other hand, the design also takes into consideration the characteristics of the place in terms of geometric, orientation and topographical measurements. It is also characterized by the appeal and width of its views.
Finally, there is added an absolutely fundamental premise: the need to incorporate a preexisting stone archway in the design. This archway was rescued from a previous demolition in the town and it was preserved by the locals. This way, it is intended to re-use the archway and to put more value on it. It was obviously called to assume a main role in the shape and perception of the building from the beginning.
When applying this set of arguments, however, we can remark some of the closely related choices chained to outline the design process:
a) The basic choice of the creation of a relatively wide outdoor space, which provides the interior of the shrine with some anteroom, protects the visitors from sun and rain and frames the view.
b) The attention given to the impact the building will cause in the landscape, even noticeable at long distances, that consists on a horizontal gesture correlative to the extent of the slope overlooking the ravine it faces.
c) The care given to the relationship between the few spaces created, both external and internal, as well as the hierarchical location of the entrances to the site and confined spaces of the chapel.
The building volume is conceived, in any case, considering the idea of framing the archway by building a parallel roof and floor to wrap and protect it.
For its construction we are to use a single material, concrete, for immediacy and simplicity reasons, considering its suitable conditions of abstraction, continuity, stability and robustness.