top of page



Señor de Tula Church

AGENdA agencia de arquitectura & Dellekamp/Schleich

Jojutla, Mexico

February 2020


Camilo Restrepo Ochoa, Derek Dellekamp, Francisco Eduardo Franco


Jachen Schleich




Rafael Gamo & Sandra Perez Nieto


The project is defined by the intersection of 3 typologies. On one hand, the idea of the basilica, a cross shaped type that directs the view to the altar and allows the confessionals to operate on each side. The second strategy was to relate the new church to the idea of the open church, a typical and very common type in Mexico since the XVI century. Which commonly operates just as a roof, allowing the relationship with nature and the surroundings happen in a very natural way, being democratic and inviting. And last, the idea of a church that operates differently in its section, being more similar to an auditorium. This last element is important, because it allows the visitor to have a more spiritual relationship with the cult as they walk down, leaving a world behind and focusing in the ceremony, but aldo it gives the possibility for the church cooperate also as a place for other type of gatherings as social assemblies, a type of space needed after the earthquake.
It was very important to give the complex a common language, where each part will keep its identity, built over time, but to give coherence to it as one entity. This meant to create a formal relationship with the existing ones, but also to provide a common surface, public and welcoming.
On the materiality, the objective was to create a simple set of materials that could be built easily with the knowledge of the contractor and the available labor.


On September 19th, 2017, An earthquake with a strength of 7.1, destroying almost all the town. No other town in Mexico was as damaged and destroyed as Jojutla. Almost all of its social infrastructure and housing was completely teared down.

The small town is located at 882 meters above sea level, with a warm climate almost all year round. Its surroundings are mostly for agriculture and its economy dependes on a rural basis.
With most of its infrastructure destroyed, INFONAVIT institute led a process for its reconstruction. First through the construction of public and community spaces for people to gather again.

The site is located in the center of Jojutla. Its main church from the 90’s got completely destroyed, and the historical complex with more than five centuries old suffered the strength of the earthquake too, bringing to ruins its old walls. The site is at the corner of the religious complex and in front of the main square, a difference of 3.50 with the level of the street in the main corner is an important feature, it creates a balcony over the city and gives the complex an important role in the urban context. The emergency created by the situation demanded the project to be built quick and with an image that will give confidence for the citizens, that it was made to last.


The performance of the scheme on the urban side is to connect the complex among its parts but also to the city and the existing structures. For that purpose the floor is covered with a brick floor tile, providing continuity, even defining the interior walls and floor of the church. This gives a sense of unity. On the side of materiality, to complement the use of brick, we determined the ceiling to be made of the same material, creating seven vaults that shelters and protects the visitors, creating a warm atmosphere that is enhanced by the suppression of the last one above the altar, giving natural light and a beautiful effect of brightness to the ceremony when the sun light filters. The structure plays a double role, on one side is the structure system defined by four arches with four columns, defined at the corners of a rectangular floor plan, but at the same time is the facade, structure as form; The arches open to all sides provide constant air flow and a direct relationship with the gardens and nature, used to protect from the strong sun of the afternoon, giving an urban and inviting atmosphere open to all.
By putting together the different typologies mentioned above, the church operates in a very interesting way, somehow in-between a traditional church and an auditorium, going to the ceremony a different tone, one of feeling protected but at the same time in relation to others, redefining the idea off a church in a tropical place.

bottom of page