AleaOlea has rehabilitated a partially demolished, 13th-century Gothic church in Leida, Spain, with a stunning and edgy extension. The Barcelona-based firm links the past and present within the Ancient Church of Vilanova de la Barca using a sleek white shell.
The building was half-destroyed by bombings during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The apse, fragments of the nave and the west façade were all that remained, including two 17th-century Romanesque-style buttresses and a ribbed vault made in the late-Gothic style.
The building was originally constructed with a local stone ashlar, which has slowly weathered and eroded over time. Measuring 22 meters long, 7 meters wide and 10 meters high [72 by 23 by 33 feet] in the interior, the small church stands today as a new multipurpose hall.
The architects sought to preserve the introspective, spiritual tone of the church while modernizing it with a fitted white shell. Upon entering the building, the walls feature an opaque, textured background. Once fully immersed inside, white perforated brick reinforces the contrast between the old structure and its new elements.
The architects’ white shell extension unites seamlessly with the unique shape of the worn-down structure. The contemporary design pops against the ancient, sand-colored brick. The repetitive geometry of the new white brick contrasts as well as connects with the original stone texture.
The project also offers an alternative entrance to the church. In the site of a former adjacent graveyard, a new entrance patio was designed to welcome visitors into the space, inviting them to immediately observe the contemporary changes made to the interior. For years, this area was suffocated by a large dividing wall.
Bold lighting guides the pathway from the street to the patio to the inside of the church. The interior is decorated with bright hanging lights that showcase the height and depth of the 200-square-meter [2,150-square-foot] structure. No longer a derelict ruin of the past, the Ancient Church of Vilanova de la Barca stands as a modern-day communal space that marries preservation with the promise of a bold, new life.
Images via AleaOlea