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2016 MCHAP.emerge

Tequila Centinela Chapel

Estudio ALA Luis Enrique Flores - Armida Fernandez

Arandas, Mexico

November 2014


Luis Enrique Flores Cervantes Armida Fernández Fernández de Alfaro


Gabriel Lopez Esquivel (Constructor) Héctor Gabriel Ramírez Magaña (Architect) Mónica Rodarte (Industrial Designer)


Manuel Cáliz Gálvez


César Alejandro Béjar Anaya Miguel Azanza Cervantes


The chapel sits on a cantilevered platform, overviewing the lake, the gardens, the factory and the agave fields. The building is oriented in a way that its closed walls face the fierce southwestern sun, keeping privacy from the busy patio. A terracotta tile pathway leads visitors from the factory towards the chapel, allowing them to admire the scenery, and enjoy the walk around the lake and gardens, leading them finally into the complex. The low height of its main entrance underlines the feeling of intimacy and sanctity. The tall, dominating volume, shelters the visitor and frames the sky with its solid and strong presence, allowing light to cast strong and defined shadows into its interior volume, emphasizing a spiritual experience. The end result is a sensation of a sacred space from which to contemplate the transitions of the sun that enhance the reddish color of the adobe, thus affirming the relationship with its context. The open space between volumes merges with the region landscape and the covered space frames essential views. It is with the changeable location of the cross and the opening and closing of doors that we manage to modify the spaces into two main options, depending on the size of the space required, either for a religious ceremony or for a hybrid in nature event which could be both, religious and social. We intended to create a sensory interaction between spaces, dissolving the edges between the interior and exterior, protected and connected to nature.


A tequila producing company “Tequilera Centinela” commissioned the design and construction of a place to host religious events, requiring its integration with the spirit of pre-existing buildings; a limited budget of 120,000 dollars and a time limit of 4.5 months. Time constraints were the main obstacle in this endeavor. In just 4 and a half months, the full design was completed and execution finished. To achieve maximum efficiency, materials available in the surrounding region (within 60 kms) were used, such as uncooked brick, pink sandstone and terracotta tiles. This strategy permitted to reduce execution time through, among others, the effective delivery of materials from nearby areas, and the expertise of local workers with the materials. Consequently, this strategy provided exceptional landscaping and cultural qualities to the whole project. By using local materials, we faced the fact that these materials were the same that have been used for generations in the Arandas region, which will allow the project to be more readily accepted by users. During the design process, we realized that religious events happened just a few times a year and a social space for guests and employees did not exist. This made us realize the opportunity of designing a floor plan that permitted social events so the building would be in use during the whole year. The building is located in the heart of the tequila region, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. We reinterpreted the religious spaces, historic houses, and old haciendas that have been built with adobe since the time of the Spanish colony. By observing the direct relationship between people and spaces, we developed a solution with a floor plan that modifies space through doors that open or close.


Before the chapel was built, there were two areas surrounding the factory building, with adjacent gardens and a lake, the whole space was not connected. With the new building –chapel- a transition space was created which allows people to walk through beautiful landscape and enjoy the views. The building has a natural spiritualty and works well for religious ceremonies of the family who owns the tequila company. Last year, the chapel was used to perform the year-end mass for all company employees, a marriage ceremony, etc. The covered area received approximately 250 people in attendance. In this instance, the main volume worked as an altar and a chorus. In religious events of minor scale, the cross can change location and the covered area can be used as a social area, where a toast can be made. The flexibility of the floor plan allows a constant use of the chapel throughout the year. Also, the nature of the building helps to transmit company values in relation with the region in which it is embedded. The use of local materials, such as red brick, pink sandstone and terracotta tiles, has helped to create a link between the chapel and the region´s architecture. This link has also been developed between the people who interact inside the property and the new building.

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