San Claver Chapel
by Taller Architects

In the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia, the Society of Jesus in Colombia transformed a former coffee farm into their own spiritual complex.

The site is embedded in the mountain, facing a valley.

Located in the middle of the tropical estate is a characteristic large house. In the 90’s the house was retrofitted to suit their requirements.

lodging, meeting rooms and a small chapel; all within a single roof.

As the retreat grew successful, the need to improve their facilities also grew. A new chapel, designed by Taller Architects, was to be erected to give room for more lodgings and proper meeting rooms within the house.

The design premise consists just in the creation of a threshold. The access threshold, which has a stereotomic character, refers to the earthly through the concrete heaviness that anchors the chapel to the ground.

A transition between the profane and sacred.

The pray area is a light and transparent space, it dilutes in the natural landscape thanks to the glazed enclosure. The sacred atmosphere is given by the surrounding nature. In such a place, for Taller Architects “architecture should just disappear”.

The glass enclosure allows the surrounding nature inside.

“When confronted with this beautiful place, contrary to tradition, we felt that as architects, there was not much for us to do” they recount.

The omnipresence of the house and its symmetry dictates a clear axis within the site, the ceremonial axis. The Chapel is aligned with said axis and located in front of the main facade.

Named after the Spanish Jesuit priest and patron saint of slaves in Colombia, Peter Claver.

The location of the chapel helps activate the former entry plaza and the steep topography concedes a privileged position within a lush green site.

Completely surrounded by tropical vegetation all year-round.

Within the sacred space, a levitating floor and a sheltering roof will suffice. The cross, located outside, reinforces the sacrality of nature as god's creation.

While chapels and sacred spaces necessarily call for introspection, Saint Claver Chapel also calls for an open and direct relationship with nature.

The chapel has no walls, therefore emphasising the relationship between us humans, and the natural environment. If society is to thrive, we must learn to live in harmony with divine creation.

Authors Taller Architects
Location Santandercito, Colombia
Year 2018
Surface 98 sqm
Client Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Photography Diez Veinte

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