Parish Church in Pueblo Serena
Jeffrey Brock Belen Moneo
Irene Alberdi (Project Architect) Fabrice Leray (3D Modeler) Andrés Barrón (Architect) RGT Engineering (Structural Engineer) Harari Landscape (Landscape Architects) Arau Acustic (Acoustical Consultant)
Plaza Huajuco Uno, S.A.P.I. de C.V.
Jorge Taboada Moneo Brock Studio
While the character of the church is contemporary, its volumetric concept was derived from traditional churches; the design presents recognizable architectural features taken from early Christian prototypes. The architectural proposal is therefore thought to be both recognizable and new. The plan is that of a basilica, with a rectangular central nave, its long axis running north-south and oriented towards the altar. Above the baptistery is a version of a rose window, a nine-square grid opening to the west with colored glass. To the southeast, three small chapels each enjoy daylight from high skylights, each oriented towards a different cardinal direction so that the nature of the incoming daylight changes throughout the day. Finally, above the altar is a fourth high skylight, whose light washes down behind an inclined panel cut into four sections to reveal a large Latin cross. Sustainable solutions were sought at every opportunity. We devised a system of natural ventilation that takes advantage of the bell tower’s height to create a chimney effect, drawing air through the entry façade and across the nave. Daylighting was also carefully studied to be sufficient without the need for electrical lighting in all spaces for use and work, while simultaneously avoiding insolation during the hotter months, keeping the thermal gains as low as possible. The interior design is fully integrated with the architecture, and the furnishings are by Moneo Brock. We also designed elements of a more artistic nature and various artworks were commissioned for the church under our curatorial guidance.
The church “El Señor de la Misericordia” is located in the center of a new town-like urban development in Monterrey, Mexico, surrounded by an impressive mountain landscape. The most important factor in the siting and orientation of the church is its relationship to the largest open space of the development, a verdant plaza. Its main entry opens right onto the plaza, allowing for the visual connection between the church’s interior space and the plaza. This entry is at once delineated and protected by a large trapezoidal canopy cantilevered off the main façade. Above the entry canopy, the façade is a large flat wall without fenestration or ornament, an emphatic and nearly square plane, declarative of the otherness of the space behind and within. Its blatant frontality toward the square is entirely intentional. It is thought that the plaza can function as an annex to the church, with religious celebrations and rites spilling out of doors when attending crowds exceed the church’s capacity of 350 worshippers. The project aims to go beyond the accommodation of religious rituals and liturgical events as currently practiced in Monterrey, where the church’s architecture is understood as marking the development of an architectural language with a long history, where its forms speak of both continuity and renewal, making reference to a heritage of ecclesiastical architecture while simultaneously remaining unquestioningly contemporary. The temple is seen not just as a place of meditation but as a social and educational center as well.
Pueblo Serena has succeeded in becoming a new town center with a strong civic identity. It is clear that, along with the development’s extraordinarily generous apportioning of green space, safe pedestrian areas and an abundance of small-scale shops and businesses, the church has been a key element in assuring that the larger commercial project did not become a consumer-oriented suburban mall but a family-oriented urban space, a sorely needed place for social gathering, exceptional in this area of Monterrey. The church is a great success. Many are those wishing to marry or baptize their children there, and masses are packed day and night with crowds overflowing the precinct on a regular basis. On these occasions, worshippers outside have, with the broad entry doors cast open, a good view of the altar, and with audio reproduction participate fully in the rites and ceremonies. Music fills the nave and spills out in the plaza to mix with the sounds from the park and terraces that surround it. With the multipurpose spaces on the lower level, the church has also become an important social and pedagogical center for the region. The ongoing sale of burial niches in the lower level crypt attests to the permanence of the place for the neighbors. We can confirm that it is an uncommon feeling to see a building of our design become such an important player in the lives of so many people, and we feel humbled by the spirit of community that fills it.