Architecture – The New Saint Francis Convent Church

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Santpedor is a small, rustic municipality located roughly 75km north of Barcelona. Overlooking a hilly Spanish countryside, it boasts just over 7000 inhabitants. The town’s two sites include the Romanesque-Gothic church of St. Peter and the Hermitage of St. Francis. The hermitage once included the church and convent of a Franciscan congregation, built by priests in the 1700s.

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Here is where our story of revival begins. A crippled 18th century church has been restored and rejuvenated with a new purpose and life.

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In a last attempt to save the church, the Catalan architect David Closes was called to the scene and did a marvelous architectural intervention. His daunting mission – which had an accompanying budget of €1.6 million – was to integrate an auditorium and multi-functional cultural centre into the church while maintaining original dimensions as much as possible so that whatever historical integrity remained was in fact preserved.

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And this is where it got interesting, that intersection of old and new. The opposites attract and in this casa it is all a beautiful alchemy.

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David Closes poetically joined the old and the new; a smart cocktail of history and modernity which converts a church in ruins into an auditorium and a multifunctional cultural facility.

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When it’s perfectly rendered in this manner, that conterminous architecture is like the best free jazz. When the right notes are played, the mashups of architectural and structural forms are the best type of mashup; it’s the zenith of the mod or hack. We strive for that confluence and seek it out.

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David Closes is  a Catalan architect who was born in 1967. He studied architecture at the Escola d’Arquitectura de Barcelona (ETSAB).

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He has worked mainly on urban scale projects, on public space projects and on territorial and landscape proposals for several public institutions. From 2004 to 2011, he has been Director of the Urban Projects Department of Manresa City Council.

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