Alejandro Aravena + ELEMENTAL

Centro Angelini . Santiago de Chile

Alejandro Aravena + ELEMENTAL . fotos: © Nico Saieh . + archdaily

In Santiago, buildings that want to look “contemporary” have glass facades, but due to the local weather the pay-off is a huge green house effect. This building had to respond to the client’s expectation of having an innovation center with a “contemporary look”. This uncritical search for contemporariness has populated Santiago with glass towers that due to the desert climatic local condition have serious greenhouse effect in interiors.

© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic

© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic

© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic

So in such towers there is a huge amount of energy spent in air conditioning. The way to avoid undesired heat gains is not rocket science; it is enough to place the mass of the building on the perimeter, have recessed glasses to prevent direct sun radiation and allow for cross ventilation. By doing so one goes from 120 kw/m2/year (the consumption of a typical case of glass tower in our country) to 45kWh/m2/year.
So we reversed the typical floor plan with an opaque core and a transparent outer edge and proposed to have all the mass on the perimeter with an open permeable core. Such an opaque facade was not only energetically efficient but also helped to dim the extremely strong light that typically forces to protect interior working spaces with curtains and blinds transforming in fact, the theoretical initial transparency into a fiasco. In that sense the response to the context was nothing but the rigorous use of common sense.
The biggest threat to an innovation center is obsolescence; functional and stylistic obsolescence. So besides the professional responsibility of avoiding an extremely poor environmental performance, the rejection of the glass facade was also a search for a design that could stand the test of time. We thought the best way to fight obsolescence was to think the building as if it was an infrastructure more than an architecture. A clear, direct and even tough form is in the end the most flexible way to allow for continuous change and renewal. A rather strict geometry and strong monolithic materiality is how we thought to replace trendiness by timelessness.
Knowledge creation requires face-to-face interaction among people and to be able to witness what others are working on. In conventional buildings, meeting places tend to be only on the ground floor and while going to each level, people normally misses what is going on in other floors. So, we multiplied the meeting spaces throughout the whole height of the building using the triple height recessed windows as elevated squares. By introducing a permeable atrium at the core of the volume we also took the opportunity to use vertical circulation as a chance to learn what is going on inside.

Ar­qui­tec­tos: Ale­jan­dro Ara­ve­na + ELE­MEN­TAL
Equi­po: Juan Ig­na­cio Cer­da, Víc­tor Od­dó
Co­la­bo­ra­do­res: Cris­tián Ira­rrá­za­val, Sa­muel Gonçal­ves, Ál­va­ro As­coz, Na­ta­lie Ra­mi­rez, Su­yin Chia, Ch­ris­tian La­vis­ta, Pe­dro Hoff­mann
Pro­yec­to: 2011-2012
Cons­truc­ción: 2012-2013
Su­per­fi­cie cons­trui­da: 8176 m2 (edi­fi­cio) 12494 m2 (es­ta­cio­na­mien­tos)
Ubi­ca­ción: Cam­pus San Joa­quín, Uni­ver­si­dad Ca­tó­li­ca de Chi­le, San­tia­go, Chi­le

La in­no­va­ción y crea­ción de co­no­ci­mien­to re­quie­re, por un la­do, el au­men­to de en­cuen­tros en­tre per­so­nas, ha­cien­do de la aper­tu­ra vi­sual y fí­si­ca un atri­bu­to desea­ble del di­se­ño; por otro la­do, el pro­ce­so crea­ti­vo de la in­ven­ción de­be con­tar con el res­guar­do de la idea; por es­to la pri­va­ci­dad cons­ti­tu­ye tam­bién una con­di­ción va­lo­ra­ble a ser cons­trui­da.
Pro­pu­si­mos una cons­truc­ción ce­rra­da ha­cia el ex­te­rior; lo que es efi­cien­te pa­ra el cli­ma de San­tia­go, con ma­yo­res de­man­das ener­gé­ti­cas en ve­rano que in­vierno, por en­de más ca­ro en­friar que tem­pe­rar. Al in­te­rior, una ar­qui­tec­tu­ra trans­pa­ren­te cons­trui­da por me­dio de un atrio cen­tral que re­la­cio­na vi­sual­men­te los pi­sos y en­tre­ga luz na­tu­ral. Te­nien­do la es­truc­tu­ra y los duc­tos téc­ni­cos en el pe­rí­me­tro del edi­fi­cio se in­vier­te el prin­ci­pio de mu­ro cor­ti­na, con­cen­tran­do las aper­tu­ras en pun­tos es­pe­cí­fi­cos en la for­ma de te­rra­zas ele­va­das.

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