Architects: Santiago Cordeyro Arquitectos - Pablo Güiraldes
Location: Patagonia Sur, Argentina
Construction coordinator: Javier Fernández
Design team: Jeannine Hary, Francisco Susmel, Javier Zabalaga, Julieta Vilaplana, Alejo Gonzalez Malharro
Project area: 3,500 sqm
Project year: 2008 – 2010
Photographs: Santiago Cordeyro Arquitectos
Glaciers are a powerful combination of natural elements and weather phenomena. Ice, stone, water, air, fight their battles before our very eyes. The visual richness of these unique places comes out of the violent yet slow clash of the elements, inexorably dragged down by gravity forces.
The Museum Project was based on this combination of basic forces and primeval elements which move slowly and majestically, with ourselves as minuscule witnesses.
The shapes that we chose are simple: horizontal bars with a single sloped roof for the warehouses, vertical prisms for the towers. The appearance of motion comes out of their adaptation to the site. Collisions and overlappings of shapes are a byproduct of the placement of functions where they belong. The whole is a result of this combinatory game. Interior spaces are a consequence of these collisions and adjustments.
The building is made of materials that are cheap and fast to assemble: Metal clad warehouses with metal frames, for the pavilions housing the museum´s contents and the hall, and reinforced concrete and Styrofoam bearing walls for the office and service towers.
The big hall is the most important element of the ensemble, welcoming the visitors and guiding them towards the pavilions where the actual museum contents are located. It is a long horizontal bar-shaped volume with slanted side elevations, built of corrugated steel and with big glazed openings.
Right in front of this main building we see three vertical towers with slanted walls, giving dynamism to the total composition by means of their geometry. These towers contain public restrooms, staff facilities, and the kitchen.
The Glaciobar, an ice bar fully clad with solid ice blocks, is located at the basement level. Real blocks obtained from the glaciers are going to be employed in its construction. Ice is going to be the only material of the interior architecture, including seats, the bar, furniture and shelves. The bar will offer an array of beverages to visitors dressed up on insulating ponchos.
The actual contents of the museum are located in two of the remaining three pavilions. Thematic exhibits such as models, interactive videos, infographies and dioramas will make the glaciers, their geography, their history and the scientific research about them, understandable to a greater audience.
The last pavilion houses the auditorium and its foyer, which will double as an art space.
Two systems were employed to build the Museum. Metal frames clad in corrugated steel for the pavilions and the main building, and a mixed system called cassaforma, and load bearing walls made of a Styrofoam core, with a steel mesh and projected concrete cladding, for the towers and the basement.
The interior of the pavilions is clad with sheetrock panels, with fiberglass thermal insulation. Window frames are made of alluminum, with double glazing. All floors are polished concrete, except for the bathrooms and kitchen were ceramic tiles were used.
During the design process the team decided to minimize the impact of the building on the site. Each pavilion was graded at the natural level, thus minimising the need for excavation or fill.
The soil surrounding the building was left untouched. No landscaping was designed except for dirt roads approaching the building from the highway
The radial arrangement of volumes helps mitígate the impact of the heavy patagonic winds on the structure.
The use of light metallic construction will make it easier to disassemble the building when the moment comes.
Cassaforma has one of the most efficient thermal insulation coefficients Fiberglass insulation was used in the pavillions, and celluose insulation was utilized on the main pavilions.
Mechanical systems were designed in order to minimize the use of condensers. Fresh air will be utilized when possible to minimize energy consumption.
LED lighting devices were used in the main hall, the auditorium foyer and for the exterior lighting.