Mexican architects model chapel on Virgin Mary
Robes of Our Lady of Guadalupe provide divine inspiration for architects FREE in Miami
Mexican archiutecture practice Fernando Romero EnterprisE (known as FREE), is looking to blend Mexican iconography with modern architecture in Florida. Its winning design for a chapel in Miami is modelled on the pleats in the gown of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a popular Latin American icon of the Virgin Mary, Mexico's patron saint.
Indeed, she's so popular that every year on December 12, Catholics make the pilgrimage in their thousands to Mexico City to honour her at the Basilica of Guadalupe, making it one of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world.
However, some of the faithful won't have to travel so far, once this chapel is built. Of Miami's 2.5m people, 65% are of Hispanic or Latino origin, a decent-sized congregation for any place of worship.
As for FREE's sartorial concept, it may seem a bit far-fetched but the architects clearly have their reasons. Within the chapel, the 27 pleats operate as individual side chapels, each complete with an effigy of one of the other 27 Latin American virgins.
The gown-like structure at ground level elegantly twists up to become a vertical spire directly above the altar. And the spire's funnel opening will be covered by a stained-glass skylight carrying an image of the Lady of Guadalupe. So natural light will be filtered onto the congregation below, making it a daringly modern vision for an age-old religion.
Perhaps the architects were inspired by their late compatriot, Felix Candela, whose Los Manantiales restaurant in Mexico City has a similar billowing aesthetic. It's also one of the many beautiful buildings featured in our great book, Concrete.