La Merced Church


The recently restored La Merced Church in the heart of San Jose, is one of the most important Catholic sites in Costa Rica. It has therefore become very popular with tourists and visitors, which in turn provides the opportunity to keep the church in a good condition and remain a relevant cultural destination.


Studio Saxe were asked to create an intervention on a site next to the church which could simultaneously act as a visitors’ centre, a small café (which doubles as a food distribution centre for those in need), a public space to host events and some small retail spaces.


It was important to protect views to and from the church and therefore the café was designed with a green roof that helps it to disappear when seen from above. We have also proposed a series of colourful umbrella-like pavilions that serve as a kind of public decoration while providing multiple functions.


When open during the day, they provide shade and an open space to gather and rest. At night the umbrellas can be shut and illuminated, creating an ever-changing landscape of colour and activity.

Project Data

San Jose, Costa Rica
Date of Completion
Sociedad de Proyectos La Merced
Aprox. 350m2

Project Team

Design Director
Benjamin Garcia Saxe
Project Team
Vidal Fernandez Diez