2022

MCHAP

Orient Extension Center Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Fernando Alfredo Pérez-Oyarzun

Santiago, Chile

March 2020

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Fernando Alfredo Pérez-Oyarzun, José Antonio Quintanilla-Chala

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Juan Eduardo Ojeda Valenzuela, Dirección de Extensión y Servicios Externos DESE Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Estudios Urbanos UC, Sergio Contreras y Asociados. Consultores en Ingeniería, Tallerdos / Ramon Lopez Arquitectos Ltda, Catalina Harasic Gil, Rodríguez y Rodríguez Construcciones Ltda.

CLIENT

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

PHOTOGRAPHER

Felipe Fontecilla, Philippe Blanc C, Marcos Mendizábal.

OBJECTIVE

The great challenge for the project was to respect the old building being, at the same time, strong enough to establish a productive dialog between the old and the new. We identified material and dimensional sympathy as the main criteria to structure the project. Thus, we decided to use the same materials of the old building -brick and concrete- although in a different way. We had discovered that the preexisting building was ruled by a very strict modular grid. Hence, we decided to use it in the new one, attempting to establish a dimensional integration between both.
Thanks to a significant structural effort, we were able to make totally transparent the façade building’s ground floor, keeping the preexisting continuity of the old patio and the public space. The 6 meters tall brick lattice wanted to provide a neutral ceramic enclosure, avoiding the polarity of wall and window, and allowing a certain transparency which made visible the extension activities from the public space, especially at night time.
In the covered patio, an autonomous steel structure seeks to provide a tempered environment both in light and temperature terms. Around one third of the available roof is opened to allow sun and light to enter the patio. The folded ceiling made of perforated metal sheets, contains the climatization ducts and acts as a multiple screen device which at the same time filter and reflects light.
The façade and the covered patio are interconnected in a way that allows them to work independently or together.

CONTEXT

Orient Campus building was originally a school and convent, built in the years 1930s, owned by the university since 1971. It has turned a much-appreciated academic environment by students and academics. It was built in brick and concrete in a neo-Romanesque style. Currently is considered a protected building by the municipality. The project was so ambitious, that was impossible to completed it.
The commissioned campus transformation asked for a general plan, done by the authors of this project. The university’s brief asked to enlarge the existing building, providing contemporary spaces for new extension activities. At the same time, wanted to respect the traces of the old project, inserting carefully the new building into the old one. In fact, the project makes use of the location of one unbuilt original pavilion and therefore can be read as an effort to complete the original project in contemporary terms.
The project consists of two different, but coordinated parts: the façade building, which complete the original façade and encloses the old patio and the covered patio, a multipurpose space for exhibitions and performances, including an underground room. An auditorium, a cafeteria and classrooms are located in the façade building. This has also the responsibility to provide a new public façade for the campus, making visible the new public activities to the neighborhood. Even the view from above had to be considered given presence of tall residential buildings in the campus surroundings.

PERFORMANCE

The Extension Center’s purpose is to produce fruitful interactions between the university and the public. Being so, a common entrance was provided both for the Extension Center as well as for student and academics, who continue developing their activities in the campus. Those are related with music, theater and visual arts. The public spaces of the new installations are also available for students or academics activities.

The cafeteria is planned as a public space open both to the campus and the neighborhood: an encountering space for people from both in or outside the university. The auditorium is flexible enough to house concerts or drama performances, as well as seminars and conferences. The spaces of the second floor are destined to continuing education. The covered patio provides an encountering space for a variety of activities. The whole set of different spaces can be interconnected for special or social events, being the auditorium’s foyer, and the sunken patio to which it opens, the main way to interconnect the different spaces of the Extension Center.
An already prestigious art gallery, has been carefully integrated the new precincts, enriching the cultural offer of the new institution.
The difficulties derived from the pandemics delayed a bit the public opening of the Extension Center. However, they offered the possibility of making clear its public vocation, when used as one of the vaccination places of the municipality. The same could happen in future political elections, since the campus has been traditionally used for those purposes.