Park, Shop, and Pray

A church, supermarket and parking garage within one structure

Churches are architecture whereas supermarkets and parking garages are not. At least, that’s what we’ve been taught by Nikolaus Pevsner. What, then, do we make of a work by Pritzker laureate Rafael Moneo that contains all three of these functions? 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 building, each of the stacked functions is nevertheless entered separately, at different levels and on opposite sides: the church is entered from the highest elevation while the supermarket and parking garage are both entered from the lowest, taking advantage of the site’s topography.

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.

Interior of the Amara supermarket beneath the church
Drawings courtesy ArquitecturaViva.com
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