PADRE HURTADO SRHINE

Santiago, Chile

1995

PADRE HURTADO SRHINE

Santiago, Chile

1995

PADRE HURTADO SRHINE

Santiago, Chile

1995

This shrine shelters the tomb of Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit priest who was one of the most outstanding figures in 20th century Chilean history. Father Hurtado died in 1952 after devoting his life to working for the poorest of the poor, and was beatified in 1995. Today, thousands of men, women, and children visit his tomb daily to render tribute to his memory.

The shrine is located in a densely populated, low-income sector on the west side of Santiago, on Avenida General Velásquez, a busy avenue heavy with traffic. The site is notable for the presence of old emblematic buildings : the church, the shelter for the sick, a small theater, and the homes that provide decent lodging to the destitute. The architectural strategy utilized the interior of the site, taking advantage of a few existing trees and proposing others, to give the place the air of a small park, keeping in mind that the new construction would have to assimilate a certain degree of existing disorder and establish a dialogue with the surrounding buildings.

One of the challenges involved in this project was to creat an atmosphere of peace to draw us away from the hubbub of urban life rushing past unceasingly along the adjacent streets, deaf to any sense of transcendece. In addition, the intimate scale of the pilgrims who visit the tomb each day had to be harmonized with a collective scale capable of holding the thousands who memorable events in the life of Father Hurtado. Two areas were thus designed, joined together though clearlly differentiated in scale. On the one hand, the path winding down to the tomb responds to the daily presence of individual pilgrims, whereas an expanse of grass lawn defined by palmtrees (jubaea chilensis), which rise like the columns of a major temple, welcomes the collective presence.

Given the interior quiet that the place claimed, a ritual descending path was designed, flanked by colored concrete walls and the foliage of trees. This daily ritual, the tension among the city, the descent, and the tomb, fuses the inexorable transit of life, death, and resurrection. As we go down into the earth, the concave landscape of the walls expands the visual horizon to disclose the small square where the tomb rises in the middle of the water as the main construction in the place. The adjoining oratory, another of the significant components of the whole, was built behind prefabricated concrete columns, slightly separated to filter the effect of light.

The tomb itself is a small circular construction with concrete walls, where horizontal and vertical planes are built of the same material. Within, the space is organized in the form of a chapel centering on the stone coffin. Through a window above the sarcophagus we see a small shady enclosure situated outside and dominated by a rustic wooden cross. In addition, where the slab is separated from the wall, the soft light that filters from above provides a diffuse luminosity that effectively removes us from day-to-day cares. The bareness and unity of material give rise to the abstraction of space, where the coffin and the cross are the sole representative items within the crypt.

PADRE HURTADO SRHINE

Santiago, Chile

1995

LOCATION: General Velásquez Ave. Santiago, Chile.
PROJECT DATE: 1994.
DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: 1995.
SURFACE AREA: 8,000 m2.
PARK AREA: 5,000 m2.
ROOF AREA: 250 m2.
REMODELATED AREA: 1,500 m2.
Architect: Cristian Undurraga, Ana Luisa Deves.
Design team: Tania Ayoub, Juan Pablo Merino, Bruce lowe.
Structural Engineers: Jose Jimenez – Rafael Gatica.
Construction Firm: Jorge Cisternas.
Landscaping: Cristian Undurraga, Juan Grimm
Photographs: Guy Wenborne.