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Colegio Lucila Rubio de Laverde

aRE- Arquitectura en estudio; Nomena Arquitectura

Bogotá, Bogotá, Colombia

May 2023


Carlos Andrés Núñez (architect designer and director), Jorge Sánchez (architect designer and director)


Diseños y estructuras LTDA. (Structure), Rojas Herrera Ingeniero S.A.S. (Hydrosanitary), Damián Quintero (Architect), Juan Felipe Díaz (Coordinating architect), Carlos Espinoza (Architect


Secretaría de educación de Bogotá


Jairo Llano


The Lucila Rubio de Laverde School (LRLS) is a local educational institution, developed by the Secretary of Education, the Mayor of Bogotá, and the Educational Infrastructure Financing Fund. The LRLS is part of an ambitious programme promoted by the Mayor of Bogota to deliver 35 public schools within the last five years. All of these schools are intended to be walking distance from the students. Given that most of their families belong to a low-income population, the design and construction standard became a clear statement by the authorities of how the quality of life could be improved through public infrastructure.
This project was the result of an architectural public competition organized by the Sociedad Colombiana de Arquitectos (SCA). It was designed for 1,040 students on a plot located in Engativá, on the eastern edge of the city, flanked by the Bogota River and the Jaboque Wetlands. It was thought of as a cloister type, composed of a two-level podium that houses the communal programme, and a single loaded slab with the classrooms facing north.
As a major investment on the edges of Bogotá, the building was conceived not only as a school but as a piece of civic infrastructure that should foster communal life in the neighborhood. Consequently, the ground level of the building houses spaces like an auditorium, a library and a dinning hall, all of which were also designed with direct access from the street so they could be utilized by the community outside school hours.


The plot is located in an expansion area in the middle of new high-rise housing developments, with a poor quality of ground definition. In response to this condition, the podium is a precise geometry permeable on the ground floor with a cross-access from the river through the wetlands across the central cloister.
The base of the building sets up a dialogue with the neighborhood at the scale of the local streets. On the other hand, the six-story slab responds to the metropolitan condition of the project, defining the river side of the plot. The podium terraces and stands face the wetlands while the slab classrooms lead its visuals towards the Bogotá river, taking advantage of the northern light for an optimal use of the space.
This slab was thought of as a visually permeable building with double height voids facing the river. It is complemented with a translucent aluminum skin that allows cross ventilation, natural lighting and a visual relationship across it.
The school was built entirely with locally made brick in order to reduce maintenance and to establish a dialogue with Bogota’s traditional architecture. Also, the slab’s terracota_colored skin sets up a dialogue with the natural tone of the brick.


Considering the lack of public land to provide educational services, the building was thought of as a vertical school (using local codes that allows up to six stories for schools) in order to maximize the free space on the ground.
The client asked for the most efficient use of the space and their investment. Therefore, the podium unfolds and extends to the platform decks, thickening the ground while maximizing the outdoor encountering spaces for students such as open air theaters, sport fields and promenades.
The circulation system on the platform allows the building to be walked and used in múltiple ways, extending its vibrancy to the classrooms slab through an exterior open stair that connects each of its floors. The slab’s 8m × 8m structure allows flexibility in all spaces. The modularity of its plan enables the classrooms to be grouped according to the school changing requirements.
The accesses to the building are differentiated according to the school grades. Towards north, the elementary school defines a lower scale access while the main access, facing the roundabout south, configures an exterior plaza that can be integrated to the central cloister when the school opens up its sliding doors.

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