Ponferrada Church / Vicens + Ramos

© Pablo Vicens

Architect: Vicens + Ramos / Ignacio Vicens y Hualde, José Antonio Ramos Abengózar
Location: Ponferrada, Leon,
Collaborators: Fernando Gil, Desirée González, Pablo Gutiérrez, Joaquín Esperón, Romina Barbieri, Raúl Rodríguez, Tibor Martín, Patricia de Elena, Javier Margarit, Joan Ramon Cornellana
Project Year: 2006-2010
Photographs: Pablo Vicens

“Joined with the artist eye, new life, new form, new color.
Out of the sea of sounds the life of music,
Out of the slimy mud of words, out of the sleet and hail of verbal
approximate thoughts and feelings, words that have taken the
place of thoughts and feelings,
There spring the perfect order of speech, and the beauty of

The work of creation is never without travail
The visible reminder of Invisible Light.”

section 02

The fundamental premise of the project has been the faithful implementation of all the functional and symbolic requirements demanded by the new provisions adopted by the liturgical reform. The chapel is presented as the protagonist of the set. It is located at the point of maximum visibility and accessibility, facing the Rose Garden.

© Vicens + Ramos
level 00 plan

The church’s main space is designed primarily as a meeting place for the joyous celebration of the Sacrifice. Thus, the architectural layout emphasizes community and the festive character of the reunion, joined by symbolic references to rich traditions. The central part of the structure is adapted to contemporary liturgical characteristics, combined with the traditional cross layout. This effectively makes focus to the altar, Holy See and Ambon, and visible from any point.

© Vicens + Ramos

An important topic of study taken in consideration here was the claim of finding an architectural arrangement that combines the requirements of the Blessed Sacrament chapel, as a place for Eucharistic tranquility. Here again the recurrence types tested in the long and rich tradition of Christian architecture has proved to be fruitful. Reference to the Aragon altarpieces of the late-Gothic and Renaissance-such as the Basilica del Pilar, Damian Forment, or La Seo, the Cathedral of Teruel, Huesca Cathedral, San Pablo de Zaragoza, etc-or Baroque altarpieces-keeping.

Thus, the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, used daily, provides high enough levels of the sanctuary to allow the sanctuary to be visible from any point of the chapel, without interfering in the liturgical ceremonies. Under the hood is available to the sacristy. The north street is the direct access, which is higher than the corner of the main entrance of the temple.

© Vicens + Ramos

Seven large skylights scatter colored light inside the temple, giving different qualities to the space. The skylights have each the images of the seven sacraments by which the Church illuminates the life of the faithful and given grace. At the entrance of the temple, on the porch, another skylight combines the bell with the sign of the Cross, and serves as a benchmark in the community.

© Pablo Vicens

Building on the morphology and configuration of the terrain, the ancient carbon deposit had to be excavated in their entirety. The parish center and priestly houses are two floors, one access to the line of the street, and the other the low level of excavation. Gardens at this level make it down every area; they are accessible from the premises.

The parish center structure is reinforced with and ceramic forges, while the temple is resolved with metal trusses. The entire assembly is coated with a veneer of rough pieces.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Ponferrada Church / Vicens + Ramos" 10 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=88248>
  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    Very clear and strong idea…

  • h.a.

    it’s just a shame that the richness of the elevations and sections is not perceived from the inside. I think that the space is a little bit too compressed, although that may be strong. The thing is then, why to build tall lanterns if there is no impact inside? if they are just holes in a flat ceiling

  • Derek

    Spiritual and contemporary

  • Arquipablo

    I dont understand why the skylights scatters are so high, but inside are perceived as a simply flat roof windows….why….why!!??

    maybe the light is stronger as higher the reflection surfaces are,….nice project anyway

  • P&P

    Nice and tidy. Amazing massing and the white finishes when seen from the side elevations look pure and smooth. One material, one solution for the natural lighting, one compact scheme. There is nothing you could get rid of.
    Just something to point out from the interiors, the headroom inside looks tight, anyway it allows the space to be heated promptly unlike the big and tall religious spaces we are used to, maybe not designed as a sustainable feature but it considerably reduces the consumption of energy and warms up the congregation space faster bearing in mind there are great numbers of elderly people who want to attend say in a daily basis… when it is pretty much empty during weekdays.

  • rvlv

    From the outside the concept of roof cubes seems very strong and clear, but looking from the inside the whole concept becomes a little bit formalistic. Maybe the same effect in the interier of the church would be achieved using simple roof windows.

  • kjs

    An incredibly claustrophobic place, if you ask me.

  • The Big Black & White Zebra

    Well it is all about feeling constrained by the height of the ceiling but then bursting up through the tall blindingly-lit skylights when your under them… a feeling close to the spiritual I am sure you could not come closer to – think how your heart and mind would feel as your walked under from one condition to the other. This is a special building, really special because it goes beyond what you see and evokes powerful feelings and responses… a great acheivement, acheived simply… not simply because it redefines every aspect of this ecclesiatical typology.

    • h.a.

      well, I have not been inside, but if it is about feeling constrained and then bursting up, the constrained is achieved but not the bursting up. Don’t take me wrong, I generally like the building, but the skylights seem a bit like timid windows inside and big events outside

  • The Big Black & White Zebra

    h.a., look at the section. The photography here prevents you from seeing up into the skylights the light is so intense, but there is no horizontal material at the internal ceiling level within the skylights… I suggest you take a trip to Ponferrada I can assure you of a great experience in this church!