The Chapel

With the untimely accidental death of Gaudi in 1926, another Catalan, Eduardo Torroja, stepped forward to advance the reciprocal structured Nubian shell. He does so by redefining shell construction using advanced science and technology.

The reciprocal structure, the shell’s self-supporting feature, is sacrificed for the multiverse of elasticity and playful possibilities reinforced concrete thin shell forms had to offer.

And with this an explosion of modernist inspired concrete structures burst onto the scene.

But at the end of his career, Torroja, a man strong in his faith, constructs the gist of what Gaudi was after: the housing of the Holy Spirit. He achieves a synthesis of science, technology, and spirit in his 1953 minimalist construction:

Sant Esperit Open-Air Chapel

The chapel exhibits the transformation of the Nubian vault. The conversion captures the essence of the most sacred part of the church, the Apse. Reinforced concrete allows for a monolithic pour, which permits the apse to attain a smooth, elegant, wholesome, curved expression.

Torroja would live only eight years after its construction, but its import would not escape Candela, who followed Torroja’s work from Mexico.


Using Google SketchUp, I modeled an apse from the plan of a church. It conformed to Torroja's chapel. The apse raised from a plan into the 3D expressed sanctuary in its original meaning, a sacred place and, by extension, a safe place; one might even say a safe place to be human.