2022

MCHAP

Palacio Pereira;

Cecilia Puga ,Paula Velasco,Alberto Moletto

Santiago, Chile

March 2021

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Cecilia Puga (project leader),Paula Velasco,Alberto Moletto

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Alan Chandler, Luis Cercos, Fernando Perez, Pedro Bartolome, Cristian Sandoval, Sebastian Paredes, Osvaldo Larrain, Emile Straub, Danilo Lazcanos, Carolina del Piano, Alexandra Edwars, Pascal Chautar, Neftali Garrido - Alejandra Jobet

CLIENT

Ministery of Culture and Heritage

PHOTOGRAPHER

Cristobal Palma - Felipe Fontecilla

OBJECTIVE

Restauration may be understood as the implementation of a series of material operations that can bring back certain original splendor. But these actions could also ignore the historical path of the building and the marks of its aging, at the risk to erase traces and, potentially, knowledge. Thus, to possibilitate and adapt the building to a new life implied a thoughtful articulation between conservation and renovation, one that aimed to embrace the nature of a ruin. The material strategy sought to draw attention to the complexity of inhabiting such a structure, prioritizing neither the new intervention, nor the character of the elegant wreckage of the Palacio.

The competition rules established three degrees of intervention:

The first one referred to the glazed gallery and the façades where a good part of the finishings and ornaments were preserved. Our proposal avoided the massive reconstruction of the lost ornaments, and limited the reconstruction to the main ornamental elements, those that allowed us to understand the rhythm and measure of the space conceived by Lucien Hénault.

Secondly, the one related to those spaces that preserved the masonry structure but had lost any original ornamental layer. Here the intervention had degrees of freedom to define the terminations, without affecting the historical elements. Given the collapse of original mezzanines in many areas of the building, in the ones destinated to a public cafeteria and book store, we let the fabric of the building exposed and in full height, without rebuilding ceilings or covering surfaces. In these rooms 15m high, two contemporary and sculptural bronze-cladded helical stairs have been introduced to connect the internal circulation of the ministry with the government offices on the second level.

Finally, the one referred to the new construction that had to occupy the site's free space, and in which there was freedom to propose a contemporary and autonomous architecture in relation to the existing building. The vacant area resulting from previous demolitions and partial collapses was filled with a three-dimensional, homogeneous grid of concrete pillars and beams 25 x 25 cms at a distance of 1.59 meters from each other. The core of this area remained free in order to rebuild the original courtyard typology creating a space capable to link all surrounding functions. The courtyard - porous and permeable to natural light - celebrates the simultaneity, coexistence and overlapping of different periods and historical times.

CONTEXT

In 1872 the senator and businessman Mr. Luis Pereira commissioned the French architect Lucien Hénault the design of an urban mansion for his family. Hénault was one of the European professionals brought to the country by the Chilean government to design emblematic works for the new republican institutions. He developed a building of neoclassical composition and kept the continuous façade, following local tradition. However, typologically it incorporated new uses and distributive systems. A transcept constitutes the major feature of the plan, being the element that organizes and orientates the most significant spaces in the ground floor, ending in a courtyard that occupied the back of the property and separated the service areas from those used by the family.
At the end of the seventies, and shortly after being declared a National Monument, the building entered a phase of decay and abandonment. The Chilean state bought the palace in 2011 in order to transform it into the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage headquarters.
The project’s material strategy sought to draw attention to the complexity of inhabiting such a structure, prioritizing neither the new intervention, nor the character of the elegant wreckage of the Palacio.
While seeking to recover lost continuity, the project chose to celebrate the condition that existed therein at the time of starting the restoration.

PERFORMANCE

The Pereira Palace held a special place in the collective memory of Santiago. It was an abandoned and mysterious fragment that embodied the aspiration towards a city that was never really consummated. Its patrimonialization process was consolidated when it was declared a historical monument in 1981, but it only became relevant when the state bought it and called for an architectural competition. At this point, the historic building
sought to be understood as part of cycles capable of adapting to cultural, technical, economic, and environmental requirements that necessarily evolve over time, thus providing connections with our past and supporting our future.

Right now, Chile is in the middle of a historical process. A deep crisis that started in October 2019 with street riots, that led to a citizen referendum that has left us in charge of preparing a new political Constitution for our country, which will replace the 1980 Constitution, written and imposed under dictatorship.. This democratically elected Constituent Assembly occupied two locations in Santiago, one public and the other originally private: the palace of the former National Congress (1876-1973) and the recently recovered Pereira Palace. Two buildings inaugurated in the 19th century, in the Republican period, and designed by the French architect Lucien Hénault (1823-1908). Both of them raised the neoclassical style that reached our country as a flagship of the values of the Enlightenment in the public sphere, as well as a backdrop for new socializations of the country's elites.