JUAN LUIS UNDURRAGA INTEGRAL STIMULATION CENTRE
Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos
Fundacion Isabel Aninat Echazarreta
In the complex – of around 3,100 m2 – there are different facilities designed to stimulate the cognition of children. Among them: classrooms, laboratories, a gymnasium, a chapel, and a heated pool. Thus, we proposed to accommodate these varied and dissimilar programs in the manner of a walled citadel that would provide children with a protected environment while allowing the coexistence of not only these diverse programmatic units but also of different forms of movement through the interior of the complex, some more hierarchical and orderly, and others more free and labyrinthine, as to encourage, with the latter, fortuitous encounters.
The Integral Stimulation Center is located in Talagante, a medium-sized town on the outskirts of Santiago. The project was commissioned by the Isabel Aninat Echazarreta Foundation, a charity organization that focuses its efforts on supporting initiatives for the care, education, and integration of vulnerable people, especially children and young people with different capabilities such as autism, down syndrome, and extreme epilepsy, among others. Through its initiatives, this institution seeks to contribute to generating positive changes that translate into a better quality of life for the community.
The design strategy is inspired by the engravings of the Basque artist Eduardo Chillida and aims to create variation through the following actions: first, through the balance between repetition and difference; second, through the alternation of full and empty spaces; and, third, through the treatment of light.
With regard to the first, the balance is achieved through the repetition of the internal units and a perimeter that surrounds them, which sometimes exceeds the useful space to create internal patios. Regarding the second, the balance between empty and full spaces is achieved by separating the units with narrow interstitial spaces that create secondary
roads, framed views, and, on occasions, unexpected circulations.
Finally, the Plan itself is subdivided into clusters that differ from each other by their remoteness or proximity to the thermal pool, in such a way that the children with extreme difficulties (physical and cognitive) have the most advantageous position and proximity to it – due to the recurrence in its use.
The articulation of the complex to the surrounding neighborhood occurs in two key points: at the main entrance, next to the administration, and at the entrance near the chapel. Both places are marked by towers that not only play an active role as visual points of orientation but also symbolize the civil and religious powers that stand behind the foundation.