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Unquera Parish Church,Cantabria,Spain by Fernandez-Abascal y Muruzabal with Ortiz y Barriento.

Photo credits: Pablo Ausucua García.

In the small Spanish town of Cantabria, Fernandez-Abascal y Muruzabal working in collaboration with Ortiz y Barriento, has designed a parish church, that although abstracted to a minimal form, will be immediately understood and recognized as a Catholic place of worship by the parishioners.

The church is richly decorated, but not by applied paints and arts, rather by the materiality of fabric and finishes.

The building is contained in a long thin box that sits level and parallel to the road. The box is raised above the site which gently falls away to the river behind. The road itself falls gently along its length, whilst the building remains level. This articulates one end of the building above the street serving as an expression for the bell tower. The bell itself is simply attached to the soffit of the roof.

Internally, is a generous entrance hall warm with wood finishes. It leads on to the nave. It is long and thin, yet well lit by natural light given by a slot running the entire length of the nave. The slot is concealed from the pews by a deep concrete downstand delineating a side isle without a subdivision of the space on plan.

Materially, richness and warmth are given by the use of different heavily grained woods. The floor has a lighter strip parquet, whilst the more intimate confessional uses darker wood that seems to envelop the space and the confessor.

The internal walls and roof are generally of fair-faced concrete. On the exterior, about half of the façades are clad with a beautiful salmon-pink stone.


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