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ARQ (Santiago)

versão On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.96 Santiago ago. 2017

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962017000200062 

Works & Projects

Building for the School of Architecture

Gonzalo Claro 1  

1 Profesor Asistente Adjunto, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago. Chile. gonzalo@gonzaloclaro.com

Abstract:

There are programs that, due to their own nature, push buildings forward. A school of architecture, for instance, should not only fulfill its function but also embody the ideas discussed within, allow for new possibilities and serve as a model. In other words, it should transform itself into a demonstrative pedagogical instrument. This structure makes the possibilities of building in wood clear, showing, with didactic clarity, the way in which it resists the vertical, horizontal and symbolic loads of an architecture school.

Keywords: building; school; wood; university; Santiago

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 1. 

The new building for the School of Architecture at the Universidad Católica de Chile - the outcome of an open competition held in 2013 - is located on the southern edge of Lo Contador Campus neighboring the 18th-century Casona Lo Contador, currently a National Heritage Monument.

The building is a two-story laminated wood volume that rests on a rough concrete basis forming the first level. The wooden pillars and beams are modulated so as to simplify tasks of assemblage and transport; the dimensions of the floor’s boards are also optimized, without any need for cuts. The wooden structure is exposed and the building’s expression is the manifestation of how the load transference works.

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 2 Site plan. Published scale 1: 5.000 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 3 Ground level plan. Published scale 1: 250 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 4 Second level plan. Published scale 1: 250 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 5 Third level plan. Published scale 1: 250 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 6 Fourth level plan. Published scale 1: 250. 

The 21-meter span piece of wood suspended between supports leaves its west side cantilevered, constituting a new access atrium for the Campus. The volume houses the offices for the School of Architecture’s professors, freeing the ground floor and its rooftop to deploy the programs that support the building’s public life: a covered plaza at street level protected from the rain and an auditorium on the upper floor that, opened towards the casona and the hill, is transformed into a viewpoint over treetops.

From its origins, the building seeks to be sustainable. That is why it is designed in wood, a renewable resource with a low carbon footprint. Its dry work assembly not only allows the reduction of construction time but also diminishes the impact of construction work on the neighborhood.

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 7 West elevation. Published scale 1: 250. 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 8 Parts axonometric. N. S. 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 9 South elevation. Published scale 1: 250. 

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 10 Axonometric. N. S. 

From its origins, the building seeks to be sustainable. That is why it is designed in wood, a renewable resource with a low carbon footprint. Its dry work assembly not only allows the reduction of construction time but also diminishes the impact of construction work on the neighborhood.

Source: © Gonzalo Claro

Figure 11 Facade detail. Published scale 1: 75 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 12. 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 13. 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 14. 

Building for the School of Architecture

Architect: Gonzalo Claro Riesco

Associate: Pablo Levine

Collaborators: Rafaela Behrens, Sarah Kutz

Location: El Comendador 1936, Santiago de Chile, Chile

Client: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Structural engineering: Juan Acevedo

Construction: GHG S.A.

Mechanical engineering: Ruz Vukasovic y Cia Ltda.

Electrical system: Ingelmor Ltda.

Lighting: Paulina Sir

Landscape: Paulina Courard

Environmental project: Javier del Río

Materials: mle Glued laminated wood

Finishings: Glued laminated wood, porcelain stoneware, glass mosaic tiles

Budget: us$ 1600 / m2

Built surface: 1.500 m2

Site surface: 700 m2

Project year: 2015

Construction year: 2016

Photographs: Felipe Fontecilla

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 15. 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 16. 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 17. 

Knots, nodes, nuts

Pedro Correa F.

A knot involving a beam pole, its lower side, two diagonal bracing, the framing of the floor they support and a windowsill; all built in a pale wood, whose grain is more conspicuous than the laminate. An architectural detail as well as a cultural node: it weaves structural solicitations, disciplinary discourse, manufacturing conditions and local myth. None of these determine the building yet they all spring from it with particular transparency. Through a specific use of wood - the fact that the knot is distinctly thick is not irrelevant here - we not only read material predilection but also material conditions.’ Wood, a local commodity thickened to support a four-story institutional building and to resist fire, leaves us with a final image: a school in which wood was held as a flagship of idiosyncratic rationality is now supported, entirely, by wood.

A productive activity field turned into national identity on the grounds of architectural discourse - either ‘benefitting from local conditions’ or ‘softening in cultural terms the political impact of national industry’ - makes this building an exemplary one. Such architectural stunt transpires ‘material conditions.’ The fact that in this particular case these conditions are literally material is mere coincidence. Neither better nor worse than usual, only more transparently, this building reflects - in the friction between the superficial warmness of wood and the thickness of its pieces - the weight of the conditions of production.

If none of this has to do with architecture, why then do we still witness this feat with skepticism? Did it have to be built in wood? The imperative of asking how things are and not how they could be, reduces a building to the work of an author. It is the designer’s skill, instead of the complex set of cultural relations woven in nuce in a building, the result of avoiding a materialism that questions itself about material conditions and not just about materiality.

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