The old chapel of the Virgin of Meritxell, patron saint of the Principality of Andorra, was gutted by fire during celebrations in 1972. The Taller de Arquitectura was commissioned to rebuild the sanctuary, but steered away from the kind of archaeological approach that would have been limited to replacing the fallen stones in their original positions. A new sanctuary was constructed on the basis of a reinterpretation of the theoretical principles of Romanesque architecture within a modern design, acknowledging the architectural heritage of the Pyrinees and seeking to counter the process of progressive degradation which the Principality a has suffered as a consequence of the total lack of planning control and building regulations. All the elements of the floor plans and facades are related by way of a harmonious numerical scheme which is translated into a rigorous compositional geometry. The geometrical decoration accentuates the interdependence of the entire complex in a unity that assimilates and contrasts with the ruins of the older constructions by means of an evocative use of change of scale. As built, the sanctuary, which remains closed virtually all year round, forms part of a more ambitious project, never put into practice, which would have extended across the valley, ordering and repopulating the surrounding countryside.
client: the government of Andorra