Church of Saint-Jacques de la Lande, new ceremonial space of Álvaro Siza

iglesia-church-more-with-less-04The project of the church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, has been made by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira.

Siza’s main concern when designing the project was being able to integrate the church into the urban fabric. One of the hallmarks of the building is the circular shape on the second floor freeing up the first floor for social and administrative areas.

This church will be inserted as a free-standing volume that adapts to the existing plan and the dimensions of the nearby buildings and spaces, extant or planned.
iglesia-church-more-with-less-07The programme is distributed across two levels. The Parish Centre and the church are on the first and second floors respectively, with a smaller basement for the technical and storage areas.iglesia-church-more-with-less-03

Two rectangular volumes break off to the west of this core, framing the entrance atrium and spanning the full height of the building. Another two identical quadrangular volumes lie to the east, along with a cantilevered half cylinder that emerges from the top floor.

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The central part of the church has seating for 126. A side chapel to the south contains the baptismal font, a semicircular apse contains the image of the Virgin and the tabernacle, and a lateral chapel on the north side contains the crucifix.iglesia-church-more-with-less-12

A raised platform extends above chapels, the base of the altar and the pulpit.


A square platform is suspended above the cylindrical space of the church to control the light entering through the clerestory and hold the lighting and ventilation equipment.

Siza’s use of light and white concrete in this church, provide a unique ceremonial space that gently folds into the neighborhood south of Rennes.

This project is thus lit from above and indirectly, reflecting off the ceiling and the cylindrical walls.iglesia-church-more-with-less-24


Another two small clerestories are set above the image of the Virgin and the baptismal font.


The tectonics of this great ceremonial space consists of white concrete walls with internal insulation. The detail of the concrete formwork is part of the facade of the entire building.



Finally, marble covers the interior floor of both the church and the parish center.



Photography: joao morgado