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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Nativity Church in Culiacan, Mexico by Pascal Arquitectos

May 20th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Pascal Arquitectos

design philosophy which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.[1] Though green building is interpreted in many different ways, a common view is that they should be designed and operated to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment”.

Exterior View

  • Architect: Pascal Arquitectos
  • Name of Project: Nativiity Church
  • Location: Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico

-          The building is going to be surrounded by a double ventilated façade, in which the exterior cladding reflects the heat, behind there is a vapor barrier which allows the passage of air, so that the incidence of the sun is not direct into de building, and its also creates a meteorological barrier.

–          After de vapour barrier there is a first layer of durock wall, a second of tyvek, a third off mineral fibre wool, then comes the inner layer that could be sheetrock or the same finish as the façade if the budget allows.

–          With this passive system supported by the orientation of we can save in mechanical ventilation and conditioning equipment   and energy, the building is naturally cold in summer and naturally hot in winter.

Exterior View


Together with the double ventilated façade, we have a natural ventilation system that functions by using the lower façade openings to let air in, and the mechanical opening the skylight windows to force the hot air out trough the top of the building.

Besides the double façade we have an interior metal greed that together with the air conditioning helps to build an air curtain, so we can have the whole perimeter conditioned creating an air barrier.

Interior View


Three-dimensional grid 4ft by 4 ft order, coincidences and possibility of better materials because there is no waste. The main façade is covered in corten pre oxidized steel, this is not a perfect material, perfection can only become imperfect, and imperfect can become ancient. New can become old. Local stone floors. Stained glass. Metal grids. Local stone and wood will be used as finishes and for furniture and accessories.


To the Interior -Churches need some reverberation, a controlled echo. The double ventilated façade plus the mineral insulation controls noise from the outside to the inside and vice versa.

Interior View


Natural  light does  not come directly  inside the building it is all filtered or reflected, the only direct light  comes filtered through the stained glass facing north that is supported by twelve inch grid that creates shadows when the sun insides on it coming in the morning from the east and in the evening from the west.

The lower chapel  perimeter is lighted through the perimeter glass roof, this is a fountain in the presbytery so the light comes showing the water patterns; the chapel gets also natural light through its roof that is the main church altar which is in translucent glass.

Artificial light does not mimic natural light, on the contrary it adds to  the opposite, it scenic and dramatic, at night light comes out form the wall openings and the stained glass presbytery lighted. The inner screen is back lighted  form bellow and so that you see it cut from the main façade.

Interior View


Native xerographic plants, so there is no watering need, and to be coherent and pertinent with the location.


– Church Access through plaza with stairs,

– Church handicapped  access  form parking,

– Crypts access through plaza with stairs,

– Crypts handicapped access through parking and

– Possible parking access for parking from the west.


We have experience in furniture design , our furniture is being produced in Italy and it h as been shown at Milan’s International Fair

We intend to design special and unique pieces for the church and at its moment depending on the budget we will select manufacturers. There is a geometry theme and all the shapes come form de fish shape of the building.

Exterior View


  • Design  considerations

–          Our intention is to create a recognizable object, its shape comes from a fish, and the exterior covering reminds of scales.

–          We decided not to put the picnic area in the bridge, it is nicer to have a picnic on the grass, besides it would make it too expensive and it would be too wide. We created a picnic garden outside the plaza , just upon arrival form de bridge and stairs, it has a view to the lake and it is shaded by big trees, and at the same time it is adjoining but not together with the plaza events.

–          The green wall in the Plaza creates a contained place and together with the shadow of the church it generates a microclimate, it acts like a veil which allows discovering through it the surrounding landscape.

–          Parking is possible under crypts with direct access from west side.

–          The crypts are like a library, a maze you can walk or stroll.

–          All the building is ADA accessible, even without the use of mechanical devises.

–          Sustainability and emphasis on Culiacan weather condition is a considered in all of the design.

–          Three-dimensional modulation is based on a 4 ft by 4 ft grid , this guarantees order, coincidences, besides there is no waste all the material is used at it maximum expression allowing the acquisition of better material.

–          The design is based in a series of structural frames  that create grids where all the other materials are hanged, screwed or attached in a mechanical way, allowing the service replacement and access to inner wiring plumbing etc. and also setting a job process of installing bases on prefabrication instead of jobsite construction.

–          The stained glass presbytery is a fundamental part of the architecture; I fuses into it, and is part of the structural support of the building besides being recognizable from the outside.

–          We added a fire pit on the centre of the plaza to provide heat in cold nights and also as a gathering point.

  • Furniture and accessories

–          Furniture and accessories design will follow same geometrical theme as the architecture.

  • The Bridge

The bridge must not compete with the church, so it is going to be made of the lightest possible steel structure and glass enclosure, being the bottom of it done in a double translucent glass layers that are lit at night.


  • Nativity Altarpiece

The Nativity is proposed as a large thematic stained-glass window drawing that also works as the structural piece that holds this church area. The colours used in this work have a symbolic and decorative function as well. In this case, the Nativity altarpiece is formed by two panels with narrative continuity; on the left side (seen from the inside of the church) includes the holy child in the crib, the Virgin Mary, the midwife and the angels.

Child Jesus crib is at the same time the womb that, by its colour, is associated to the light that “illuminates us” and to the nourishing earth, represents the world to come and life foundation. Virgin Mary, accompanied by the midwife symbolizes the feminine and maternal side, the feelings, the wisdom of grace and the beauty. The virgin has a blue robe that relates her with heaven. On the other hand, both feminine figures are bound by the red colour that refers to life origin.

Site 01

Joseph, shown like a pilgrim that has made a long walk, represents willpower, intelligence and compassion. The scene were child Jesus, Virgin Mary and Joseph appear, seems to take place in an interior space, while the rest of the story happens on the outside.

The right hand panel represents the masculine and the action world, including the shepherd, the animals and the three Wise Men guided by the star.


Site 02

Site 03

Detail 01

Detail 02

Detail 03

Transverse section

Longitudinal section

Section 01

Section 02

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