The Capilla del Retiro (Retirement Chapel) by Chilean office Undurraga + Devés has been announced as the winner of the prestigious Premio Internazionale di Architettura Sacra Frate Sole, now in its 5th edition.
The award, given by the Frate Sole Foundation every four years, has been conferred in the past to architects such as Tadao Ando (Church of the Light, Church in the Water, Church in Rokko, 1996), Alvaro Siza (Santa María Church, 2000), Richard Meier (Jubilee Church, 2004) and John Pawson (Novy Dvru Monastery, 2008).
With this recognition the small concrete chapel formed by 4 concrete beams floating over a rustic excavation in Auco, Chile, joins a group of iconic contemporary religious buildings, where the delicate balance of light and matter are the common denominator.
The chapel rises as a confirmation of the extraordinary geography that surrounds it, while respecting the axes established by the series of preexisting buildings. Concrete is the main material of the building’s structure. Its volume, strictly economical, rises up from a crosspiece of 4 beams in the shape of a cross that is supported with the least possible structural elements so that its relationship with the ground is slight but sufficient. Shape and structure here are an indissoluble synthesis.
Under the strict geometry of the concrete a patio was excavated, whose rustic stone wall rises hazardously up and around the chapel, compressing and expanding that space of light. As a counterpoint to the magnitude of the geographic surroundings, the interior was designed in the shape of a wooden box recycled from old railway lines. This box hangs from the concrete structure and lies 2 meters under the beams that support it, limiting the view of the emptiness outside.
Learn more about the Capilla del Retiro in our previous article at ArchDaily.