Architect: Giancarlo Mazzanti
Collaborators: Andrés Sarmiento, Juan Manuel Gil, Freddy Pantoja, Camilo Mora, Pedro Saa, Alejandro Piña, Iván Ucros, Gustavo Vásquez
Location: Santo Domingo, Colombia
Project Year: 2005
Construction Year: 2007
Constructed Area: 5500 sqm
Concrete Structure: Sergio Tobón
Steel Structure: Alberto Ashner
Photographs: Sergio Gómez
Background and needs
The Project is located on one of the hillsides that have been affected by the violence since the 80´s because of the drug traffic network that operates in the city of Medellin. It is part of the government’s social master plan program to give equal economic and social opportunities to the population.
The program asked for a building with library, training room, administration room and auditorium on a unique volume. The proposal was to fragment the program in three groups: The library, the rooms, and the auditorium; then join them with a bottom platform that allows flexibility and autonomy, improving the people’s participation considering each volume operates independently.
Justification of the adopted composed solution
Medellín is geographically mountainous.
The city is located in the north of Los Andes mountain ridge, one of the most topographically broken places of Colombia. This geography defines the identity and the image of the city. This image is precisely what the project aims at, it intends to integrate itself into the landscape and become an interpretation of it.
Architecture as landscape
More than a building, it proposes the construction of an operative geography that belongs to the valley like a mechanism of organization of the program and the zone, showing the unknown directions of the irregular mountain contours, not like a metaphor, but like an organization of the form in the place, a folded building cut like the mountains. A landscape building that redefines the folded mountain structure in form and space, nullifying the idea of the landscape like a background and encouraging the ambiguity building-landscape.
Justification of the urban insertion of the proposal
The Project is organized in two structures: the first one is the building – landscape (rocks) and the second one is a platform that integrates and transforms the cover into a square that looks into the valley; this way, the building is empowered as a meeting place, multiplying the connections and letting it develop as a reference point.
The building like an icon
The place is made by small brick houses, product of auto construction; and residue of green areas as a result of the impossibility of construction on it. This organization produces a uniform texture of the city like a building – landscape, like an icon, keeping the tension that already exists. Geography as an element of hierarchy; and architecture as the epitome of texture.
The Project is noticeable from a big part of the city, allowing it to redefine itself as the symbol of a new Medellín, as a way of making people feel identified and receiving the building as their own. In the present state, the building is one of the touristic points in the city and one of the most visited.
Ambient and atmosphere
Additionally to make an icon building, the first premise was to develop a construction that, through its interior design, could descontextualize the individual from the poverty that is experienced in the outside creating a warm atmosphere based on natural light, allowing a great ambient of study and lecture. This is the reason why the building takes a timid look into the city trough the small windows that show the relation with the valley, letting the illumination go into the top of the building.