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2014 MCHAP

Campus Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar

Gallardo/Costa du Rels Arquitectos

Sucre, Bolivia

November 2009


Andrés Costa du Rels Luis Ignacio Gallardo De Aliaga


Saúl Mejía (Structural Engineer)




Carlos Aramayo Baeza


To embrace local architecture and its own relation with urban context, have been the strategies to capture the spirit of place. The search for such spirit has been the fundamental directive that guided the design of the campus at a level of general planning, convinced that it couldn't be conceived as a collection of buildings dispersed on a green area, but emerge as a coherent unit and ordered following its own urbanistic guide lines. None the less, in order to achieve a project with its own strength, it is always necessary to avoid any mimic gesture of architecture servile to aesthetics of historic models, utilizing on the contrary contemporary languages and resources. The classrooms were conceived as a collection of buildings articulated on the basis of a patio system, with passages and balconies that lean towards the interior. The lecture halls constitute a formal and typological reinterpretation of a spatial system that has been practiced in Latin-American cities since their foundation. In this sense and through the summon power that this elements have - patios, passages, balconys- we seek to infuse the buildings with the spirit of place. The introspect character of ecclesiastic American buildings, and its association to the image of knowledge repository is given to the building that will shelter the University Library. The tower of the library, of great evoking power, reminds of the prominent elements, of the churches of Sucre.


Founded by the Spanish in the first half of the sixteenth century, Sucre was the first capital of Bolivia. Designed following the traditional simple urban plan with checkerboard-patterned streets, similar to most towns founded by the Spanish in America in the 16th century, the city of Sucre achieved cultural and economical relevance because of the mineral wealth of the nearby city of Potosi leading to be the seat of the Charcas Royal Audience, forerunner of the present Supreme Court. Due to it´s cultural relevance, it was home to University of Saint-Francois-Xavier, one of South America’s oldest universities, the Royal Academia Carolina, and San Isabel de Hungria Seminario. Because of this cultural tradition, the concept of a Campus is not a paradigm with no historic root in the city of Sucre, being traditionally a university city. It always has prized to offer itself willingly, either in its public spaces or in its monumental buildings and urban collections, to the presence and activity of students of the entire country, a fact that grants Sucre much of its singularity. The presence of important ecclesiastical and cultural buildings was relevant in the development of a city that has achieved an extraordinary visual, formal and urbanistic coherence harboring one of the best preserved historic centers of America, for what the city of Sucre has entered in UNESCO´s World Heritage List.


The search of an architecture that could evoke the cultural context is made evident by the necessity to achieve large and wide white walls, with scarce window or openings, and the liberty that reminds the aesthetic and utilitarian sense that local architecture grants to light. This desired image in contradistinction to the basic illumination requirements of the architectural program results in a double solution: One the one hand, the organization of the buildings around patios, true light conveyers, grants this set of buildings a change of scale required in regards to the exterior areas of the campus, and the spirit of place character that has been seeked. On the other hand, the extense eaves that top the ceramic tile roofs lift to make way for controlled light required in the class rooms. On the inside, the spatial connections between the learning rooms are linked to informal meeting points that stimulate visual contact redefining the classic idea of “space for learning”. The class rooms and library are meant for flexible use with extraordinary light conditions and effortless spatial articulations. Located in the historical capital of Bolivia, where most of the architectural forms follow mainly a conservative colonial and monumental line, the buildings for the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar became a new icon in the landscape of the city of Sucre offering a new face to represent such an important public education institution.

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