The plot is located in a corner of the busy Vicuña Mackenna Avenue, on which an elevated metro runs. This Avenue which leads to the South of Santiago, concentrates a large number of universities and professional institutes.
In fact, located in front of the site is the largest Campus of one of the most important universities in the country. Its main access is on the diagonal to the site of the Santo Tomas Professional Institute.
Another important issue is the oppressive presence of a metro station of 150 meters in length, located in front of the site with the height of 4 floors. The only visual relief occurs at the corner of the site, exactly on the diagonal mentioned. It was thus decided to access the Institute on that axis.
The disorderly neighbourhood didn’t give indications for a general scheme. It was decided to separate from the chaotic surroundings, creating a green perimeter embankment, which is walk-able. Below the embankment there would be classrooms facing inwards. Below them would be the parking.
The embankment is discontinued only on the access. For a general scheme, an efficient solution for educational use was chosen. A hand with “fingers” creating open patios, to receive the eastern to western sun. The “fingers” help for divide construction into stages.
In between the ones that face the diagonal, a long trellised entrance with climbing plants (Wisteria sinensis) is produced. The fingers have a “double green skin” on its ends, protecting the frontons of noise and of the sun and uniting with the embankments.
The fingers converge at an ample and varied central hall of 4 levels, surrounded and crossed by ramps and sitting areas. This will be the interchange centre of students and professors with the most utilized areas beside it.
This space has a moving play of volumes and light. It can be used for audiovisual interventions. The patios to the west of the access are built on stages and have distinctive trees (ceibos, jacarandas, etc).
The fingers that form them mix economy with flexibility. Its exterior longitudinal parameters work as solid walls, being held rigid with “Xs” with T sections. In the transversal direction, at every set distance, they are crossed with walls of the entire height which don’t get to be longitudinal.
All of this allows for an excellent bracing for the horizontal efforts. It also allows for flexibility in terms of locating the corridors in any of its sides and in uniting or dividing the classes and laboratories. The built price per m2 is low. Source: Browne Swett Arquitectos
Location: San Joaquín, Chile
Architects: Browne Swett Arquitectos
Architect In Charge: Enrique Browne, Tomás Swett
Project Team: Felipe Combeau, Tadea de Ipiña, Olimpia Lira, Cristóbal Teixido, Gonzalo De la Parra, Josefina del Río , Carolina Rocco
Structural Engineering: R.G. Ingenieros Asociados LTDA Jorge Gonzalez y Juan Espinosa
Technical Inspection: IBLOCK Willy Herrera
Acoustics: Delta Acústica
Lighting: Paulina Sir / Alejandra Ramos
Site Area: 9,861.5 sqm
Total Area: 18,395.14 sqm
Client: CFT-IP Santo Tomás
Photographs: Nico Saieh, Enrique Browne
Article by Marco Rinaldi