Rafael Moneo – Winner International Prize for Sacred Architecture VI Edition - 2016

The church of San Sebastian (Spain) with which Moneo won the Frate Sole Edition 2016 Award.
It is the Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo (born in 1937), Pritzker Prize in 1996, who won the VI Edition of the International Prize for Sacred Architecture for new religious buildings of Christian worship created worldwide. His “Chiesa de Iesu”, in San Sebastian (Spain), with its clean and compact forms, alternating solids and voids, won the jury over, which unanimously decided to assign it first prize.
Second place went to the New Church of the Parish of Kadon, in the province of diLamDong, in Vietnam, created by VN-A architects, using simple materials such as wood and iron, which enhances its relationship with nature and the opening of spaces outward.
New Church of Kadon Parish, Vietnam (external and internal view).
Instead, the new St. Trinitatis Church in the city of Leipzig (Germany) - the largest Catholic church in former East Germany - created by the German architectural firm, Schulz und Schulz, received third place. The architects worked on the relationship between history and location, selecting a material such as porphyry, the same porous, but tough, red stone with which the most significant monuments of the city are built. Inspired by the principles of energy sustainability, the church is equipped with a geothermal system, designed by the scientists of the Technical University of Dresden.
Church St Trinitatis in Leipzig.
However, not only “star architects” and awards to great universally known names in architecture were recognized, but also a commitment was taken to highlight the works of lesser known professionals, yet, who equally excel in their work. In addition to the top three winners, the jury chose to give special recognition to two other works. Special mention went to the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, created with stone and wood in the Johannisthal district of Berlin by the German firm of architects, Brückner & Brückner.
Restructuring of the spiritual center of Johannisthal in Berlin.

And to the simple and austere Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, designed as a scalene triangle that fits perfectly into the landscape by Spanish architect, Alejandro Beautell, in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.

Capilla San Juan Bautista, Canary Islands.
Rafael Moneo and the other four finalists will be honored at the ceremony, which will take place in Pavia on October 4th, for the occasion of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

José Rafael MoneoVallés, better known as Rafael Moneo, was born in 1937 in Tudela, Navarra, and studied in Madrid where he lived and worked. For many years, Director of the most famous school of architecture in the United States - the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University - he has taught architecture in Barcelona, ​​Lausanne, New York, Princeton, Harvard, and Madrid, and is the only Spanish architect to have won the Pritzker Prize. Moneo is known for his distinctive and recognizable architecture, characterized by clarity and precision. His buildings are compact and possess that firmness the architect declares as being the keystone for a new modernity, which represents the future of architecture. His works communicate with the identity of the place. They amplify and interpret it, whether they are large interventions, such as the Kursaal Concert Hall in San Sebastián, or the considerably sized expansion of the Prado in Madrid, which reflects the attention given by Moneo to an historical context as complex, charming, and delicate as is the Prado - managing to enter in complete harmony, even if with a completely different intervention - and also when it comes to smaller, yet,  symbolic works, such as the City Hall in Murcia, and even when it comes to hotels, such as the Hyatt Berlin, where the architect managed to carve out an identifying space in the debated context of Potsdamer Platz. Among his most important works, there are also: the Museum of Roman Art in Merida, the Atocha Station in Madrid, the Airport of Seville, the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, the Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, and the Gregorio Marañón Children's Hospital in Madrid.

The church of San Sebastian (Spain) with which Moneo won the Frate Sole Edition 2016 Award.

In a balance between emotion and rigor, the “Chiesa de Iesu”  - inaugurated in 2011 -  is located in one of the newer districts of the Basque town, that of Riberas de Loiola, where the religious building, along with  the adjacent Garden of Remembrance, constitutes a new landmark. The architecture, which Moneo himself defines as “generous in its spaces and very modest in materials”, is characterized - both externally and internally - by its abstract and minimalist white walls, an element that recalls the dominant color of the flowers of the nearby park and, above all, the important rationalist buildings present in San Sebastián, such as the Real Club Náutico and the “Equitativa” building. The complex consists of three elements: the church itself, situated within a cubic volume, facing eastward; an L-shaped body, which houses several rooms, among which includes the parish center; a wall that closes off the patio-garden located between the two buildings and that filters the passage from the open space of the road to the mystical temple.

The church portal.

The nave of the church has a Latin cross floor plan, built inside a larger quadrilateral. In the spaces that complete the figure, the sacristy and the baptistery are positioned to the left and, to the right, are the Chapel of the Sacrament and the Chapel of the Reconciliation. The traditional cruciform plan has an  asymmetrical design, which gives way towards “reflecting the tensions of today's world”, as stated by the architect himself, and pays homage to the Basque sculptor, Eduardo Chillida and his “Cross of Peace”, housed in the Cathedral of  San Sebastian.

The hall of the church, with a cruciform plan.

A key role is played by the natural light that, entering in different ways, is able to characterize each space in a peculiar manner. What immerges, in particular, is the zenithal lighting of the principle nave, created by the openings in the roof that highlight the cruciform plan and are able to immediately evoke the message of the Gospel and transport the worshipper into a mystical dimension. Worthy of mention is the large window also designed by Moneo and created in alabaster and inserts of glass, representing a cross, a sun, and two moons in two distinct phases.

The International Prize for Sacred Architecture is organized by the Frate Sole Foundation and sponsored by local authorities and national ecclesiastical and cultural institutes, such as the Pontifical Commission for the Ecclesiastic Cultural Heritage of the Holy See, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, the National Council of Architects, the Order of Landscaping Architects of the Province of Pavia, the Diocese of Pavia, the Municipality of Pavia, the University of Pavia, the National Bureau for Sacred Buildings, and the Province of Lombardy of the Friars Minor.

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