La Laguna will recover in ten months the site of the old church of San Agustín, destroyed by a fire in 1964. The mayor of La Laguna, Luis Yeray Gutiérrez, visited the space yesterday, the day preliminary work began to remove the abundant vegetation existing inside the space after years of abandonment. The expected consolidation works on the ruins will allow citizens access to the lower part of the temple, with an area of 1,200 square meters.
“This is one of the most important days of this mandate. As a World Heritage city, we had the obligation to recover a reference space for the citizens”, assured the mayor during the visit to the ruins, in which he was accompanied by the Councilor for Works and Infrastructures, Josimar Hernández, architects responsible for the project, technique of the work and personnel of the company awarded the intervention, among others.
“Today [ayer] we pay off a debt with our city, by beginning the rehabilitation of an emblematic place, linked to our history, which offers enormous possibilities as a cultural and recreational venue. The consolidation of the ruins of the old church of San Agustín will be an example when it comes to combining modernity and the recovery of heritage”, assured Luis Yeray Gutiérrez.
For his part, Josimar Hernández emphasized the complexity of an administrative procedure “which has required intense work from the Works and Infrastructures area and the Presidency, through the Contracting service, so that this day becomes a reality and that Within a period of ten months, citizens will be able to access this important space again”.
From the direction of the work, the architect Esaú Acosta also underlined the significance of the moment. “Today [ayer] It is an important day for La Laguna. We started the works that consist of recovering a historical asset that had been abandoned for a long time,” he said, while explaining that “the work consists in this first phase of resining all the columns and consolidating the ruin so that the population can enter and enjoy of this place, grandiose and surprising”.
The architect indicated that the intervention, awarded for 845,209 euros, is not exempt from technical difficulties: “When the fire broke out, there was a sudden cooling in the pilasters, which have been losing section and size, to the point that some are very thinned and have minimal resistance. We need to inject resins to stop this degradation effect and recover resistance”.
Another difficulty is to shore up and consolidate the arches, about 15 meters high, and which are very degraded. The objective of the project “is not to generate a false history so that the church appears new, but rather it must reflect the actual process of the fire, as one more element of the history of the site,” he pointed out. A team of approximately 40 people, including technicians and operators, will carry out a process that will begin with the exact dating of the subsoil, the removal of the topsoil (which will be replaced in some areas, since the place was also used as a vegetable garden) and a test check will be carried out, extracting resistant elements to check their status in the laboratory. Subsequently, the resins will be injected and a reversible floor will be placed (which can be removed at any time without affecting the important historical elements). The part of the altar and retrochoir will be carried out in a second phase.
The recovery project of the old church of San Agustín dates back to September 2005, when the FAM Arquitectura y Urbanismo studio (currently SIC Arquitectura y Urbanismo) won the international competition called.
Until April 2008, the contracting process for the basic project and execution for the construction of the San Agustín Cultural Center did not end. In December 2008, the drafting of the basic project was concluded and at the end of 2009 the execution projects were delivered in the demolition and consolidation phase and in the rehabilitation phase. After a long hiatus of almost seven years, in July 2016 the City Council awarded SIC Arquitectura y Urbanismo SLP the modification of the consolidation project, to adapt it to current regulations that allow people access to the interior. This project was delivered to the City Council in October of that same year but its execution did not materialize until now.
The fire of June 2, 1964 destroyed one of the religious buildings of greatest historical and heritage value in the Canary Islands. The old church of San Agustín dated from the beginning of the 16th century, built on a site donated by the Adelantado Alonso Fernández de Lugo to the Augustinian community for the construction of a convent. The demolition of the old temple and the construction of the new one was agreed in 1765. The Literary University, created by Carlos IV in 1792, had its headquarters in this convent from 1821.