Set within a new urban development in the northeastern city, and surrounded by mountains, the white stuccoed church has the appearance of snow-capped peaks with various points reaching upward, including a defining, 43-metre-tall bell tower at its highest point. The main entrance faces onto an adjacent public plaza, allowing weekly congregations and events like weddings and funerals to spill out onto the streets.
Architects Bélén Moneo and Jeff Brock designed the church, which officially opened earlier this month. The duo run a local office in Monterrey, but they also have satellites in New York, Madrid and Santo Domingo. Originally founded in 1994, the studio has completed a range of projects at every scale, from private houses and boutique hotels to a thermal spa in Spain and an art studio addition to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Michigan.
With “El Senor de la Misericordia,” the firm was sensitive to maintaining elements that reflect the vocabulary of a typical Christian place of worship. The interior plan, for instance, follows that of a basilica, with a rectangular central nave that reaches 15 metres in height, its long axis oriented toward the altar. Above the alter is skylight that lets light wash down and illuminate a Latin cross.
The 1,600-square-metre volume is filled with light wells that bathe the spaces in sunlight while also casting dramatically contrasting shadows across the floors and walls. Plentiful natural light also means electrical lighting is barely needed. To help with acoustics, the firm worked with Arua Asociados to dampen echoes by adding noise-muffling wood battens on the walls – most notably behind the altar and choir.
“We see this church as a place of meditation as well as a social and educational centre,” say the architects. Besides being able to seat up to 350 worshippers, the interior allows for areas for teaching, special rites and social activities, and its layout includes a baptistery, choir section, three chapels and a courtyard.
Landscaping, by Harari Landscape Architecture, is expected to be completed next year and will include several holm oak trees.