Architect: ERERAS Arquitectos / Eugenio Ramirez Ballagas, Ernesto Rodriguez Matos & Arnaldo Sanchez Nuñez
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Architects in Charge: Eugenio Ramirez & Ernesto Rodriguez
Collaborators: Alba Guzman, Edgardo Rivera
Structural Engineering: Hector Gonzalez, P.S.C.
Client: Mayra Santos Febres – puertorrican writer
Constructed Area: 139.3 sqm
Project year: 2008
The library project for the puertorrican writer Mayra Santos Febres was conceptualized through three fundamental principles:
To design a piece of contemporary architecture on the roof of an Art deco building in the Condado area, is a task that must consider the balance between the new and existing structures and its visual impact from the street. In search of a subtle dialogue between these two structures, a linear terrace removed from the edge of the building on the frontal part of the roof is proposed. Using studies of pedestrian visual angles, stepped levels are implemented across the structure so as to minimize the visual impact from the street below.
In the same manner, a minimalist language of clean and contained lines is expressed, emphasizing the use of different materials, colors and textures applied to vertical planes. Among these different applications are:
- Plastered and painted concrete
- Exposed concrete (black plywood panel formwork)
- Exposed concrete (butt joint siding formwork)
- Tongue and groove siding doors
- Glass panels
- Aluminum louvered windows
The economy of resources played an important role in decision making during the design process. We advocate an architecture based on a creative endeavor that recognized and comes to terms with limitations that may arise within the construction industry of Puerto Rico, be it craftsmanship or resources. For instance, off the shelf materials and on site fabrication were used for wooden doors.
The project was conceptualized using the image of an open box full of books capable of containing and protecting the writer’s book and art collection, as well as her work in progress. At the same time, becoming a workspace full of light and views of the urban landscape. The space is organized by two terraces (east and west), whose use fluctuate between the time of day and the shadows projected by the surrounding buildings and the new structure, and a contemplative interior patio that receives the north light. A connection between the interior and exterior is possible through two large wooden doors (each 9 feet wide) opening to the terraces, that line up frontally with the existing perpendicular street (Mirsonia St.), continues through our space and extends between two high rise buildings located on the rear lot. In the same manner, the terraces and their views are located as to create a direct dialogue with the few existing trees in the area, bringing as much vegetation as possible into the interior space. The box is lifted from the surface of the roof to maximize views seen from the interior, offering an experience of fluid space and light.