The building that is home to the UC Innovation Center is an important innovation itself, both due to its architectural conception and to its engineering.
With an original geometry and an inside space structured around a transparent line granted by the central atrium, which visually relates the different floors while providing natural light, the building is intended to become an important icon in our capital city. From its architectural conception, this building was thought of as one to be very different from any other.
According to Alfonso Gómez, Executive President of the Center, “it is an iconic and emblematic space that aims at deepening and accelerating the shaping of a new culture within the university, the Universidad Católica de Chileand, and that is designed in such a way, that from any location on a floor it is impossible not to interact with what is going on elsewhere on the same floor”.
This effort to promote our people’s creative capacity, develop productive capacities with high knowledge aggregation, thus allowing for contributing to lay the foundation for a country that is less dependent on its commodities and more diversified in its capacity to create value and contribute to improve the quality of life of its citizens. Source by Centro-de-Innovación-UC centrodeinnovacion.
This building had to respond to the client’s expectation of having an innovation center with a “contemporary look”, but the uncritical search for contemporariness has populated Santiago with glass towers that due to the desert climatic local condition have serious greenhouse effect in interiors. Such towers spend a huge amount of energy in air conditioning.
The way to avoid undesired heat gains is not rocket science; it is enough to place the mass of the building on the perimeter, have recessed glasses to prevent direct sun radiation and allow for cross ventilation. By doing so we went from 120 kW/m2/year (the consumption of a typical glass tower in Santiago) to 45kW/m2/year.
Such an opaque facade was not only energetically efficient but also helped to dim the extremely strong light that normally forces to protect interior working spaces with curtains and blinds transforming in fact, the theoretical initial transparency into a mere rhetoric. In that sense the response to the context was nothing but the rigorous use of common sense.
On the other hand, we thought that the biggest threat to an innovation center is obsolescence; functional and stylistic obsolescence. So the rejection of the glass facade was not only due to the professional responsibility of avoiding an extremely poor environmental performance, but also a search for a design that could stand the test of time.
From a functional point of view, we thought the best way to fight obsolescence was to design the building as if it was an infrastructure more than architecture. A clear, direct and even tough form is in the end the most flexible way to allow for continuous change and renewal. From a stylistic point of view, we thought of using a rather strict geometry and strong monolithic materiality as a way to replace trendiness by timelessness. Source by Alejandro Aravena.
Location: Santiago, Chile
Architect: Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL
Project Team: Alejandro Aravena, Juan Ignacio Cerda; Samuel Gonçalves, Cristián Irarrázaval, Álvaro Ascoz, Natalie Ramirez, Christian Lavista, Suyin Chia, Pedro Hoffmann
Structural and mechanical engineering: Sirve S.A.
Site supervision: Juan Ignacio Cerda
Area (Campus San Joaquín): 455,351 smq
Total floor area: 9,000 smq
Cost: $ 18 million
Client: Grupo Angelini, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Photographs: Nico Saieh, ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic