Templo Umbral

Vrtical studio designed a low budget brick temple for the new Hare Krishnas community in Guanajuato: with simple modular elements it was built by the community itself.

Vrtical, Templo Umbral, Guanaguato, Mexico, 2016
Located ten kilometers away from the town of Cuerámaro in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, the Templo Umbral – or Threshold Temple – is the first building constructed by the Hare Krishnas in the region since they arrived there in 2012. As the first physical move toward establishing their presence in the area, this project was built with a participative approach, reflecting the Krishnas’ principles.


The project had to merge the community’s requirements and be developed progressively and in stages, firstly and most importantly with the construction of the temple, which would define the layout of the rest of the development. The Hare Krishnas are a not-for-profit organization and therefore the temple’s construction budget was limited to 300,000 Mexican pesos (equivalent to roughly 14,600 USD).

Vrtical, Templo Umbral, Guanaguato, Mexico, 2016
Vrtical, Templo Umbral, Guanaguato, Mexico, 2016
The architect’s design and project strategy focused on understanding the Hare Krishna community: it involved a highly detailed analysis of an intuitive construction system that could be built by a community with virtually no training in construction techniques, thus minimizing labor costs. The project’s execution would leave a trace of the collaborative effort, making it easy for the participants to remember their involvement, down to the last brick.
Vrtical, Templo Umbral, Guanaguato, Mexico, 2016
Vrtical, Templo Umbral, Guanaguato, Mexico, 2016
The space therefore acts as a threshold to help observe nature, framed in the distance. Following the same design criteria as Zen gardens, the walls, roof and reflecting pool all combine to help frame the context. The decision to avoid any interior wall plastering was successful on three counts: by creating a more austere space and thus reflecting the community’s values; by revealing the collaborative construction process; and by showing the yellow-hued materials that coincidentally are part of the colors that define the Hare Krishna’s religious belief.

Templo Umbral, Guanajuato, Mexico
Program: temple
Architects: VRTICAL + Coop
Team: Luis Beltrán del Río, Andrew Sosa, Oscar Sanginés and Dolores Galicia
Construction team: Luis Beltrán del Río, Andrew Sosa and the Hare Krishna community of the Bhaktivedanta School
Structural engineering: Alejandro Solano, Luis Beltrán del Río and Andrew Sosa
Area: 70 sqm
Year: 2016

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