The intervention on the remains of the church is embodied in a simple gesture: a single folded piece covers the space for the concert hall and brings back the original space of the nave, becoming a refuge from which the landscape can be contemplated.
Site area: 948 sqm
Location: Huete, Cuenca, Spain
Client: Huete Futuro Foundation
Competition, honorable mention
The apse of Santa María de Atienza is the only remnant of one of the main churches of Huete, a small town in central Spain.
The remains of the old building are located on the top of a hill, facing the vast valley of Huete. The five-sided polygonal apse was illuminated through several profusely decorated windows with mullions. The upper part is reinforced by five strong buttresses, while the head of the church is set on the top of a crypt. The main access from the presbytery was blocked and the current access has been located on the side wall of the apse.
Despite the recent interventions on the building, the general conservation status of the remains is in danger, and that is why the intervention is conceived to be completed in two different phases. Firstly the building should be consolidated and a deep archaeological study should be carried out. Once the monument is restored and analysed, a new element should be built for the protection for the apse.
For the remaining parts of the building, the intervention is intended to focus on stabilising the structure as well as improving the existing decorative elements, without carrying out major actions. The building extension is aimed to enhance the value of the historic structure creating a sharp contrast between the actual remains and a simple volume. The new roof brings back the original proportion highlighting the perception of the archaeological remains.
The proposal aims to improve the current appearance following the principles of an ‘objective restoration’, adapting the building for a new use and making sure it will be protected through periodic maintenance.
The original floor of the church and the street in which the access is located are at a different level and overlap each other. This issue is solved with a different pavement and several steps towards the apse. This helps to read the original status of the monument because its footprint is drawn on the floor, but the steps also become the stands for the concert hall.
The resulting scheme is a sober metal piece which is cut out depending on the geometry and the sightlines, becoming a refuge for the observer. A wide horizontal window cuts the steel skin of the new façade and opens a wide view towards the horizon for the audience to enjoy; not only the view of the apse and the nave but also the valley landscape. The sculptural piece is covered by a continuous material of steel which provides a noble, tough and protective character, although its shape is almost weightless.