The Church of San Pedro Durazno (between the rational and the mystical)

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Abstract

The church of San Pedro located in, Durazno, Uruguay, suffered severe damage following a major fire in 1967. The engineer Eladio Dieste, became responsible for its subsequent re- construction. The project presented significant challenges, working with the existing fabric to a very limited budget. Despite this Dieste proposed and completed a remarkable transformation, to produce a contemporary, modern design. The work is almost entirely of reinforced brick, adapting and developing new techniques of masonry construction he had pioneered in numerous project. The paper presents a short history of the church, background to the fire and describes the reconstruction; the design concept, structure and construction. To assist in understanding Dieste’s approach reference is made to some of his key writings, new contributions from his collaborators on the project and previously unpublished images from various archives. Key elements of the structure and construction are described in detail, such as the novel pre-stressing systems used in both the roof and walls of the nave and the remarkable rosette window of minimal brick structure. The discussion is supported by further structural analysis and prototype construction studies at the University of Edinburgh. The church occupies a particular place in the work of Dieste, as an outstanding exemplar of his search for ‘cosmic economy’, in which architecture, structure and construction are integrated seamlessly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99
Number of pages30
JournalConstruction History
Volume34
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • church
  • Uruguay
  • Dieste
  • structure
  • reinforced brickwork
  • pre-stressed
  • fire
  • reconstruction

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