Featured Image Source: Nicolas Barrriola, Under Creative Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iglesia_Atl%C3%A1ntida_Dieste_7.jpg
The Church of Estación Atlántida, also know as the Church of Christ the Worker and Our Lady of Lourdes is the pinnacle of Uruguayan architect Eladio Dieste career, (source). The church sits in the small suburb of Estación Atlántida which is about 3 kilometers away from the Atlantic ocean.
The building was completed in 1960 and took two years to build, (source). The building is not only an architectural masterpiece but also a masterpiece of engineering pushing the boundaries of what could be achieved with brick. Experimentation with brick bloomed during the 20th century in Western Europe, mainly in the Netherlands and Germany. This style is known as Brick Expressionism, (source). One of the earliest examples of note is Het Schip in Amsterdam. Designed by Michel de Klerk and finished in 1920. The apartment building used brick to create expressionistic buildings abundant with curves and sculptural forms, (source). Later examples like the MIT Chapel, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955, plays around with the circle and how brick can be effectively applied to this shape, (source).
The Church of Estación Atlántida can be seen as part of this movement and as a fine example of Brick Expressionism. The building’s floor plan is relatively simple being rectangular in shape with the main entrance, a single central nave leading to the altar. The two longest walls of the rectangle are curved creating a ruled surface, (source). Close two the meeting point of the wall and roof there are small windows placed in an irregular fashion. The roof two is curved creating a wave-like form. The roof is also constructed from brick. The wave-like form of the roof allows it to be self-supporting, not requiring any columns. The building spans almost 15 meters across the width of the build. The alter is illuminated by a skylight which is placed above it. The rest of the building gets its light from the irregular windows placed on the sides of the building. These windows are in stained glass of various colors. The church gets progressively lighter towards the altar and draws the eye towards this light. The building feels almost cave-like with its bare brick interior and low light.
The interior of the building shows various brick patterns that give the building a tactile feel. This plus the curves of the walls and roof create the sense of movement and motion. The building has no ornamentation besides the cross and is sober in its decoration. Besides the church stands the bell tower which also uses brick and is open allowing air to flow through it. The tower is decorated with a simple metal cross which stands at its highest point.
The church is far from a showy piece of architecture and has subtly as its main strength. This subtly has been used to great effect to create an impressive piece of architecture and arguably an even more impressive piece of engineering.
–Dejtiar, F. (2018, March 12). The Intricate, Undulating Brickwork at Eladio Dieste’s Cristo Obrero Church in Uruguay. Retrieved July 20, 2018
–Palacio, J. (2014, January 27). Material tour de force: The work of Eladio Dieste. Retrieved July 20, 2018
–Wikiarquitectura. (n.d.). Atlantida Church. Retrieved July 20, 2018
–Wikipedia. (n.d.). Iglesia de Cristo Obrero y Nuestra Señora de Lourdes. Retrieved July 20, 2018
–Wikipedia. (n.d.). Het Schip. Retrieved July 20, 2018
–Wikipedia. (n.d.). MIT Chapel. Retrieved July 20, 2018
–Wikipedia. (n.d.). Brick Expressionism. Retrieved July 20, 2018