Church of Miribilla

Construction year: 2008
Address: Askatasuna Etorb., 11, 48003 Bilbo, Bizkaia | BILBAO | Spain
Latitude/Longitude: 43.2518119, -2.9292214

A glass prism fitted into a structural grid captures the natural light that comes in from the exterior in what constitutes a three-dimensional and contemporary representation of the traditional stained glass window.

The organisation and formalisation of the spaces dedicated to worship, with its connotations of representation, expression and symbolism in religious practice, have been resolved in close connection with the conditions of shape, topography and orientation of the site and with the urban environment that envelops it.

The apex formed by the “diagonal street” and the neighbouring park constitutes the most visible point on the site from any viewpoint of its immediate surroundings, making all the programmed spaces flow into it, arranged fundamentally by the orientation of the church whose entrance is situated to the West and the altar situated in the Eastern end. From the perspective of Miribilla boulevard and the “diagonal street”, this apex offers the opportunity of identifying the new church within the existing built profile. Given the large scale of the construction and the sloping topography, the elevation of the new building at this point allows it to be unequivocally identified within the urban landscape.

In spite of the austerity that should on principle represent a space dedicated to worship, here it was sought, in a subtly intentional way, to single out the construction by means of an element capable of expressing, symbolising and representing the religious function, as well as organising, articulating and characterising the formal and ambient qualities of its interior space. This is a glass prism held up by a lightweight structural mesh made from metallic elements that is inserted between the most significant volumes of the construction, causing a crack around which the different interior spaces are organised. The weave of this prism, constituted by planes of glass, forms a three-dimensional mosaic of different volumes and textures that captures and colours the natural light from the south and distributes it towards the interior in different directions. As a counterpoint, the north-east façade introduces level light towards the floor through a longitudinal crack. The rest of the annexes (parish offices on the ground floor and parish facilities on the semi-basement floor) is illuminated by roof lights along a longitudinal double-height courtyard. In the inverse sense, the artificial light of the interior of the building diffusely illuminates the prism, expressing its image on the outside and, in particular, towards Miribilla boulevard. At night it becomes a powerful urban icon whose luminous and coloured sign qualifies its surroundings.

The complex of the church, the everyday chapel, the vestry and the penitential chapel are distributed in such a way that its spaces enjoy a great deal of transparency and continuity, even when its envelopes, heights, textures and spans have specific characteristics. The position of the vestry in relation to the church and the everyday chapel facilitates the ritual procession in the interior of the church. The baptistery, singled out by the light that comes in from a roof light, is located at the entrance to the church, in the space next to the vestibule. The parish offices and annexes occupy the rest of the ground floor.

Autor: IMB Arquitectos. Gloria Iriarte. Eduardo Múgica, Agustín de la Brena, arquitectos
Colaboradores: Iñigo Barberena, Gilles Marchal, Gorka Apraiz, arquitectos, Iban González, Joseba Martínez, José Luis Olaeta, aparejadores
Consultor Estructura: Ingeniería Ine
Consultor Instalaciones: Ingeniería Indotec
Constructora: Dragados
Promotor: Obispado de Bilbao

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