the 13th century spanish gothic church of vilanova de la barca was partially demolished in 1936 as a result of bombings during the spanish civil war. the church had been in a state of ruin since then, with only its apse, some fragments of the naves and the west façade remaining. in their renovation of this church, barcelona-based studio aleaolea aimed to retain the original appearance of the ancient building while transforming the old structure into a new multi-purpose hall. the project establishes a dialogue between the old parts and the new elements, between the past and the present.

aleaolea church vilanova de la barca
all images by adriá goula



the original church, adopted by the architecture and landscape studio aleaolea, has a basilica typology with two naves, a presbytery and lateral chapels. the interior rises over thirty feet. preserved of the surviving structure are two impressive lateral buttresses, probably of a romanesque origin, and a ribbed vault in the apse of the 17th century in a late gothic style. the entire church was built of ashlar masonry which was largely damaged by the weather conditions and the erosion of time. more recently, the church had been severely affected by the construction of an attached single family house in the former graveyard.



an important aspect of the project is the attention to the covering elements: the façade and the roof. the studio established a new latticework brick façade and a gabled, arab tile roof. the entire system is conceived as a ceramic shell that is gently supported over the remains of the ancient walls. the outer façade reproduces the irregular texture of the stone ashlar of the ancient church, offering a visual continuity and integration with the original fabric. contrarily, the inner façade is designed with a white perforated brick, reinforcing the contrast and discontinuity between the old parts and the new elements. the image of the old church is retained from the exterior, while from the interior there is a new atmosphere of rest and introspection.

aleaolea church vilanova de la barca

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project info:


architects: aleaolea architecture & landscape (laia renalias, carles serrano, leticia soriano, roger such)

client: vilanova de la barca town hall

construction: UTE construccions jaen-vallés – urcotex inmobiliaria

technical architect: baldomer ric

structural engineers: campanyà vinyeta sl

completion date: april 2016

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