16th century chapel restoration and reformation

Special mention / Diploma in the category Conservation in the year 2013.

Dating of the building: 16th century.

Applicant: Adam Bresnick.

Reason for the award :

For the restoration of an old chapel in ruins, from the 16th century and its conversion into a venue for cultural events through the insertion of an original structural solution, which combines steel and concrete with the old stone of the existing building.

The recovery of a dilapidated 16th-century chapel linked to the execution of a modern design combining new materials, such as twinned pine slats, respecting the original walls, visible in the whiteness of the stuccoed walls.

The church of the Jerónimas de Brihuega Convent was built in 1596. It suffered, like numerous religious buildings in the country, the Succession War, serving as a hospital, and French looting during the War of Independence. Finally, in 1969, it was abandoned by the last congregation of nuns due to its dilapidated state.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Spanish studio of Adam Bresnick Arquitectos was in charge of studying and executing the rehabilitation of the existing structure together with the implementation of new uses. The conception of this complicated intervention sought to respect the traces of the passage of time. The vault that covered the nave had collapsed and had to be replaced by metal trusses. The main walls were fissured and vegetation had grown between their cracks. Even more problematic was the situation of the damaged transverse arches responsible for supporting the dome. Furthermore, after the collapse of the wooden structure of the dome, its quarter collapsed. As for the interior, it was stripped of all adornment except for pilasters and cornices. Broken windows and leaks completed the dilapidated setting.

In the first phase, the roof was repaired and the tile eaves rebuilt, while the stones of the cornice were left with their flaws and chips, as was the door from the end of the 16th century. Inside, the structure of the dome was rebuilt first. The nave with its lateral access was treated as a set of archaeological remains, together with a new floating construction in the main space, a new arched ceiling employing a succession of twinned pine slats, an imitation of the vault of yesteryear. The trace of this original vault can be imagined on the masonry walls by the plaster and moldings that had survived. A third area houses all the current uses on four floors, occupying the old choir, with stairs, bathrooms, kitchen, changing rooms, and warehouse. An elevator ensures access for users with reduced mobility. All this space gives us access to the cantilevered area that generates a new, more intimate choir, which is part of the ensemble.

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