Reactor

Madrid’s (Holy) Version of the Watts Towers

by Kyle Chayka on February 25, 2011

Justo Martinez's cathderal in Madrid (all images from inhabitat.com)

In LA, the Watts Towers are a homemade monument by Simon Rodia, pointed cylinders of steel decorated with found objects that stretch over 99 feet tall. In Madrid, Benedictine monk Justo Martinez has constructed his own cathedral” of a scale and complexity to rival Baroque architecture. Built over the past five years and rising over 131 feet, the religious structure is an enormous monument to perseverance.

Details of the cathedral's unusual tower and interior with paintings.

Green design blog Inhabitat has a full photo essay of Martinez’s work. One glance tells you that the cathedral is huge — four pillars rise on either side of the structure while two main towers flank the cathedral’s narthex. There’s even a rosette window taking shape in the front facade. Close-ups reveal the recycled nature of Martinez’s building materials, misshapen bricks and blocks mortared together into a flat surface. The windows on one side appear rescued from a warehouse.

While there’s no set plan for the overall design of the cathedral, it is loosely based on the famed St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. There’s an inspirational story behind the structure, too: Martinez is building the cathedral in dedication to the Lady of the Pillar, a manifestation of the Virgin Mary who he prayed to during a difficult struggle with tuberculosis. If he survived, Martinez pledged, he would build a cathedral.

Martinez hopes that the cathedral will eventually be permitted for active use in worship. Of course, the whole structure has to be cleared by architects before it’s opened to the public. Can you imagine going to a service in this massive assemblage?

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