Max Nuñez Bancalari
Felipe Camus (Collaborator) Santiago Valdivieso (Collaborator) Marine Winckler (Collaborator) Enzo Valladares (Structural engineer)
The Grange School
The layout is separated into two levels: an underground floor with two multi-purpose rooms (for music and theatre) and a second level with three rooms for the Visual Arts Department. This layout frees up the first level, transforming it into a common space protected from the elements that connects the various patios and walkways surrounding the building. It dimensions – 4,5 m high with a 21x21 m surface area – allow it to be used for such diverse purposes as a play space, exhibition space for student’s work and outdoor lectures. The open area houses five large reinforced concrete columns of varying shapes and sized that hold up the upper level. Each column contains a vertical void that spatially and visually connects the three levels of the project: vertical lightwells that also serve to illuminate and ventilate the underground floor. The second level is characterized by its irregularly-shaped roof, which functions as a self-supporting cover that eliminates the need for additional supports. The concave interior space that the roof generates, the corners formed by concrete columns, and the variable profile of the perimeter windows provided by support beams, make this open-plan floor a qualified space. It is a free space, but one that is not neutral. The use of exposed concrete in all structural elements gives the building a strong presence in the school's campus. It is equivalent to its neoclassical neighbors as a severe and permanent object which will require little or no maintenance, ageing well with the pass of time.
At the scale of the school's campus the Mad Building has changed the relation between the preexisting neo-classical constructions, reconnecting areas of the school previously secluded, generating a public covered area which is not only used as a gathering space but usually as an exhibition space for the art works of the students. At the same time it's asymmetric geometry and expressive structure stands out within the surrounding context creating a formal contrast that has encouraged the school's members to reconsider the role of architecture, how it can redefine the use of space and affect how we learn and live. As the arts department of the school the building's complex structure reflects the creativity which the school is promoting in its students. The concave space provided by the folded roof of the second floor, it's oversized columns-lightwells offering unusual relations between floors, the ambiguity of a heavy object hovering over the open space of the patio, and the intense school life happening through it, are some of the features of the building that have affected the learning experience in the school, hopefully renewing the sensibility of the community towards the arts.