Antonio de Padua de Chépica, Chile
Antonio de Chépica was founded in a town north of San Antonio in 1824.
In 1875, the church was relocated and the new San Antonio de Chépica
was rebuilt in 1876. The structure suffered serious damage in the 1906
In the first quarter of 2010, US Geological Survey recorded six
earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater which claimed over 222,000
lives. The damages caused by earthquakes to developing countries are
severe due to unsophisticated earthquake-resistant construction. Most
reconstruction schemes in remote areas and small villages aim to
'reproduce quickly, exactly as it was'. Without the luxury of time and
resources to critically rethink the impact of these significant changes
to the environment, without precise reconsideration of urban planning
and architectural mistakes, the same will happen again.
destruction marks a milestone on the timeline, where the existence
becomes memory. Memory defines awareness. Human personality is defined
by memory. Having no memory means the loss of awareness of the
‘self’. As memory represents the view back into the past, it also
stands for the current state in the present, while looking into the
future and building upon the experience from before. One cannot recreate
the past, unless –if it was possible- to go back to a state, where you
knew less than you do now, in the presence time.
architecture be a witness of time; with memories that traces the past,
present and future? Could the consequences of these unexpected events be
an improvement to the way in which people live in future? Could
knowledge and recourses be shared so that affected villages, cities or
counties are revitalized through positive changes? After all, in the end
always lies the opportunity of a new beginning.
church connects the past with the future through faith and reflection,
symbolizing the new beginning through the end. With all major stages of
a lifetime (from baptism, marriage to funeral) being celebrated here, it
is a symbol of birth, change and end of materiality through time. With
the church being destructed itself, it becomes a metaphor for the end
and the beginning itself.
a large room of 850 sqm is a small room of 350 sqm, quietly slotted in
on the first level, providing flexible rooms for smaller gatherings. The
dynamic movements of the roof, shifting in two planes, subtlety define
the interior spaces. Upon entry, the tilting of the roof structure
seamlessly integrates the volume of the bell tower into the main volume
of the church. The dramatic spatial experience towards the highest point
of the church leads to the bell tower, orientating one's mind to reach
out. The fold on the roof plane allows its simultaneous extension to
another high point, directly above the altar. Below it marks the thin
standing cross. The music echoes and rests upon its open interior space.
It is a place of calmness without physical and metaphorical division.
The space is penetrated with subtle rays of natural daylight through all sides of the facades, submerging in extreme tranquillity. The room is furnished with rows of timber benches, orthogonally placed, silently gazing upon the altar and the 7 meter high cross. The eastern wall is cladded with recycled timber panels, documenting history and time. Structurally, seismic resistant reinforced concrete construction is engineered to provide thermal masses that keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter by storing energy effectively.
Chépica finds in the reconstruction of San Antonio church, the opportunity to demonstrate courage and strength after experiencing such devastating natural catastrophe. The architecture becomes a visible expression of relentless faith.
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