Park, Shop, and Pray. Sacred-Profane Mixed-Use Building in San Sebastian by Rafael Moneo

Church, supermarket and parking garage in a single structure

Churches are architecture whereas supermarkets and parking garages are not. At least, that’s what we’ve been taught by the likes of Nikolaus Pevsner and others. What, then, do we make of a single building designed by none other than Rafael Moneo, Spain’s only Pritzker Prize winner, that contains all three of these functions within its walls? Situated in Riberas de Loiola, a new neighborhood of San Sebastián, the Iesu Church occupies the corner of a park (the Garden of Memory, which honors the 829 victims of the ETA terrorist organization), forming a transition between a rolling verdant landscape and apartment blocks. The inclusion of commercial retail space and parking in the church’s basement allowed the church to offset 75% of its construction costs.

Although this sacred-profane multi-use building is a single structure, each of the stacked functions is nevertheless entered separately, at different levels on opposite sides of the building: the church is entered from the highest elevation on the site while the supermarket and parking garage are both entered from the lowest (of course!), taking maximum advantage of the site’s topography to ensure that the clientele of either do not cross paths.

The temple provides not a single hint of the supermarket, just as the supermarket makes no reference to the church. In fact, the supermarket even sells condoms.

Plans and section courtesy Arquitecturaviva

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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