Any change in the use of a space obviously requires a series of actions that adapt said place to the new needs that are presented beyond the implicit ones that the mere updating of it entails. On this occasion, the task of transformation was as motivating as it was exceptional: transforming an abandoned Renaissance church into a home. Throughout the process, three concepts that were constituted as a road map were handled: the story, the client and the project understood as a prologue.
The intervention was carried out on a small church (little more than a hermitage) built during the second half of the 16th century and underwent an important remodeling in neoclassical terms at the end of the 18th century, increasing its height and adding, among other things, a belfry and a water trough.
At the moment in which our action arises, the building is without cover, collapsed in its own interior, and in a worrying state of structural instability. Located in the neighborhood of Las Barrietas, within the municipality of Sopuerta and surrounded by a dozen isolated buildings, occupies a privileged position within a plot surrounded by lush green mountains.
At all times, the idea of intervening in the most sensitive way possible was prioritized, touching the church only when there was no other alternative, understanding the action as an alien element implanted within a ruin.
Each project revolves around a client or at least one user destined to inhabit this project but, in the case at hand, this figure acquires still a greater role. The way in which to think a home is directly linked to the lifestyle of the inhabitant and, as such, this project is the result of a desire to tame an unusual space, to do so with respect to the previous history but with contemporary concepts, to understand housing as an open space and to pose the home as a meeting place, as an opportunity to socialize housing architecture.
So, this project ended up being designed “two hands”, drawing by both actors in the literal sense, sharing concerns, knowledge, aspirations and obsessions. This fact generates that the figure of Tas, the client, becomes the generator of the project from beginning to end, visualizing the same, in the designer and executor, drawing, projecting and even forming part of the same material execution of parts of the work and the subsequent actor who will continue an unfinished work.
The project as a prologue
This was understood from the start, as a design task extended in time that was evolving at the same time as the work was done and that, once finished the work of the architect, will continue to grow in the hands of Tas.
And it will do so following the same premises marked from the beginning and under which our intervention has taken place. It will do so by respecting what was already there, leaving visible what is generated in the present, voluntarily and consciously facing the history of the previous building, without touching or making up the scars that show their travel almost as directly as a literary story would the new elements that constitute the new architecture.
It will do so assuming the consequences that entails a change of use, the change of scale that implies generating a dwelling within what was conceived as a church, in the different lighting and environmental needs that mark its new life.
And it will do so by understanding how that new space has acquired a new value, how it has been achieved, without forgetting the past, to convert a space of worship into a home.
Work: La iglesia de Tas
Promoter: Tas Careaga
Author: Garmendia Cordero Arquitectos
Location: Sopuerta, Bizkaia
Area: 190 m²
Photography: Carlos Garmendia Fernández