2014

MCHAP

Innovation Center UC - Anacieto Angelini

Elemental S.A.

Santiago, Chile

December 2013

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Alejandro Aravena / Elemental

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Mario Álvarez / Sirve S.A. (Structural engineering) Carlos Gana / ICG S.A. (Electrical engineering) Patricio Vega / Vivanco y Vega ltda. (Plumbing engineering) Waldo Bustamante / Bustamante y Encinas Asesorías en Sustentabilidad (Energy efficiency ) Gustavo Concha / A&P Ingeniería (Air conditioning)

AUTHOR

Marcelo Von Crismar

PHOTOGRAPHER

Kim Courreges / Elemental Nina Vidic / Elemental Felipe Diaz Contardo Cristobal Palma

OBJECTIVE

The campus creates a learning environment that is sensitive to the needs of children and demonstrates the potential for community development within a depressed urban community. At the street, white walls define the arts enclave and rise in contrast to the surrounding neighborhood. The campus is secured, but not isolated. Deflections in the exterior wrapper open, inviting students to engage the complexities of the city. Within, the space of the courtyard and the studios weave a texture of form, light, and color, to inspire each individual student. The ceramics tower beckons as a symbol of the connections forged between students, the community, and the world. Conceived as an aggregate of interwoven forms, spaces interconnect around a network of plazas and courtyards. Just as important as the specific program spaces—a 99-seat black box theater, faculty offices, studios, classrooms, and larger multipurpose rooms—are the ways in which these spaces facilitate connection, dialogue, and exploration. On its north face, the ceramics tower gives way to an orange inner-volume inviting the students to explore light and color. Across the courtyard, a parking ramp slices over a gallery to expose the vibrant chromaticity of student work. In the theater, a large skylight opens to the western sky, welcoming the natural world into a dialogue with the stage. Large roll-up doors, pivoting partitions, black-out shades, and other simple features create programmatic and functional flexibility to allow multiple uses at a range of scales.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.

CONTEXT

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. 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.

PERFORMANCE

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.