A New Interpretation of a Sacred Space: Renovation of a Chapel in Jarandilla de la Vera
Builder: Spanish ministry for construction (Ministerio de la Vivienda), Madrid
Architects: Héctor Fernández Elorza, Manuel Fernández Ramírez
Location: Jarandilla de la Vera (ES)
The Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre stands near the main church of Nuestra Señora de la Torr in Jarandilla de la Vera, a town of 3,000 situated 120 kilometres west of Madrid. It has seen a lot since it was built in the 17th
century: in the 19th century it served as a small prison, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was even used as a school. In the end, the building stood empty and gradually deteriorated. Its appearance no longer showed its once-sacred character.
The architect faced two challenges: first, to stabilize and weatherproof the structure; second, to overhaul the spaces for a new, flexible use. The interior of the chapel joins onto a simple, gable-roofed main nave and a cupola-crowned apse. A five-metre-long granite arch divides the two parts.
For stability, the long front space was given a completely new inner lining of 25 centimetres of reinforced concrete that covers the floor, the exterior walls and the inside of the roof. For the concrete formwork, the architects used the wide wooden planks that had functioned as roof slats in the tiled roof before the renovation. The floor is covered with the same granite plates that the architects had laid in the outer area.
In the apse, the tiled cupola was improved and inside of the round, long-decayed lantern, a small skylight shaft lined with stainless steel was installed. Along with the two side apse windows, it is the only daylight opening in the chapel. The architects even thought about improving the building’s acoustics. The interior of the entrance wall was completely covered with an accordion-like, sound-absorbing cladding of light-painted wood.