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51-1 Arquitectos

Lima, Lima, Peru

August 2022


Manuel de Rivero Ruiz, Cesar Becerra Bragagnini, Fernando Puente Arnao Malpartida (Architects)





Cristobal Palma


The extensive programme requirements for the plot generates that the convent develops vertically: A two-level public plinth contains a chapel in the corner, many educational workshops (dress making, bakery& pastry, hairdressing, informatics, graphic & audiovisual design, management), offices and an auditorium. Its public and open character is stressed by a solid pink concrete volume with large arch-shaped openings that reveal the diverse public programmes offered to the community.
Above is a private intermediate level for refectories and meeting rooms as well as the courtyard and public areas for the nun community.
The upper three levels host the women shelter cells facing the street and the Sister’s residences towards their private courtyard. This volume is closed by an austere brick lattice that allows light but protect women inside. The building is topped by terraces with laundries, an orchard and recreation areas for its occupants. Due to the caritative nature of the institution every effort has been made to minimize service and maintenance costs and consider the most durable materials available.


The Sisters of Mary Immaculate Congregation -established in Madrid by Saint Vicenta María López Vicuña in 1876- needed new residences for their religious community, but also for their intense work sheltering young vulnerable women and facilities for their Technical-Productive Education Center seeking the insertion of young and old people into the labor market. They had a corner plot in a neighborhood under a rapid process of densification, where 2 story houses are replaced by 20 story residential towers that reshape the streets with a continuous frontage of unwelcoming garage doors. Creating a building with an open street level, could be a good opportunity for the Sisters of Mary Immaculate to show their generous spirit and leadership as an alternative development of creating public spaces in private land.


During the Spanish colony, female convents were considered a sign of the city’s opulence and proof of the quality of its neighbors. Lima hosted up to thirteen cloistered convents occupying around a fifth of its surface. Convents were cities within cities allowing nuns to live a mixed life between contemplation and active apostolate (charity and teaching). Such a traditional and conservative old typology is reformulated into current conditions of reduced land and private hegemony, turning it into an open public facility for its community. Since its opening, the result has been phenomenal in the way this building has proven how certain institutions -that were heading into obsolescence- reconfigured in a contemporary way can recover new roles for societies in desperate need of access to education and generosity.

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