Economics and Business Faculty - Diego Portales University
Rafael Hevia / Rodrigo Duque Motta
Rafael Hevia Rodrigo Duque Motta
Gabriela Manzi (Associate Architect) Catalina Ventura (Collaborating Architect) Martin Holmes (Collaborating Architect) Francisca Saelzer (Landscape Designer)
Fernando Guerra | FG + SG
Amid glass buildings that lack identity, the project contrast by building a solid structure that exposes its weight, permanence and stability, aligned with the university´s policy of long-range commitment. This is why time is an important element to consider, for it has to show how the building changes, over the day casting different shadows on the facades, and over the years, in which walls are to be covered with vines, stone floors will age and the park will grow and mature. The building must show track of time, so materials were chosen to endure.
The project begins when the Diego Portales University decides to build a new campus in an economic district in suburban outskirts of the city of Santiago. This decision aimed to relate the faculty to business headquarters, but meant to leave the historical district where the rest of the faculties are located. A general layout of the new campus was designed and a competition was called to design the Economics and Business Faculty, as well as the development of the master plan for the rest of the site. The site was located at the foot of San Cristobal´s Hill, overlooking the valley of Huechuraba and the surrounding Andes Mountains. From the beginning we found necessary to embrace this elevated position to establish geographic relationships with the natural context, at the lack of any significant urban context to relate. Our proposal was to design an open spaced Faculty that projects all of its common spaces towards the natural surroundings, instead of the closed cased constructions that surrounded the site.
This first faculty is designed using basically four elements that will repeat themselves in future arrivals of new faculties, each one defining functions and establishing different relationships with its natural environment. First, a large base composed by horizontal courtyards overlooking the landscape at different levels, which contains underground public facilities such as an auditorium, library and parking space. Second, an eight level bar housing undergraduate classrooms, allowing public facilities in the lower level and different classroom configurations in the higher levels. This continuous bar is crossed by several open spaced volumes, elevating terraces at different heights that are used by students to rest between class periods. These piercings relate both sides of the building, connecting east views to the hill to the west views of the valley. Third, the iconic building that gives identity to the faculty, containing graduate classrooms and academic offices. These unique buildings frame the landscape views from the courtyards, establishing a scenic figure-ground relationship with the bar. This building is elevated, leaving a large open space courtyard in its base that connects with its territory. Finally, a park is defined on the lower area of the site, weaving the landscape with the constructed base, generating a proper distance to the existing buildings. It offers open-spaced sport facilities as well as natural courtyards used by students to rest and gather. This park is designed using native, low maintenance species, watered by a natural well also used to evacuate rain water, reducing all impact on the environment.