Location: Santiago, Chile
Project team: Eduardo Fam Mancilla, Diego Pinochet Puentes, Leonardo Suárez Molina
Structural engineer: José Manuel Morales
Site area: 3,128 sqm
Constructed area: 1,670 sqm
Project year: 2006-2009
Photographs: Nicolas Saieh & tFPS
This Project, our first project as architects, started in 2006. It sets as the perfect projection of three recently graduated (in fact… graduating) architectural student´s concerns, about the discipline´s approach to the architectural project: One related to the formal exploration, a playfull one that can lead us to a differentiation to historical types of common architecture (typical boring boxes). Another, related to a rigorous technical approach (so the formal exploration can emerge in the reality), and finally a strong commitment, with elemental life situations that define the architecture (formal and technical approaches).
The project can be described through three points.
A big warehouse (with administrative offices and showroom), a “cool one”( just as the client request), one that can “stands out” in contrast to the typical industrial architecture of the close context of the project, but… as cheap as we can produce it (aprox $430 USD/sqm). A form that could respond to the internal logics of the company´s operation (charge and discharge of products, exhibition of these products in the showroom, administrative operations, etc).
- A limited budget (enough to build a typical warehouse)
- Strict regulations of the zone (an industrial park near to the main airport of the city)
- About the internal operations of the company
This led us to a fundamental question: How can we operate on the form, responding to the requirements of the client and the building regulations of the zone, and beside fit into the small budget?.
The equation that defines the problem was clear: client demands + building regulations demands + tight budget = a cool and unique building. Clearly , not an easy one…
The first approach to the problem solution, came from the idea of concentrate all the efforts to the exposed facades of the building (The site was defined by two streets), generating “perimeter activated by the program”(where liberties about building regulations were less strict) and leaving the production activities protected to the inside of the site.
The formal operation or “where final architecture emerge”
How to operate on the form, then?, Where to start?. Taking the basic idea of a normal box (basically, a typical storage building …a big shed) inverted. We started to think about this strong image , and the formal logic that we can explore and explode , to transform ( starting from the same surface area of the initial box), the most exposed faces of the building to receive the critical activities demanded for the client.
We use of a typical structure of industrialized steel frames (to let us have less cost in structural calculations), but operating from the folding of the skin (finally, the cheapest and more workable object in technical terms).
A series of foldings (mainly three operations), allowed us to generate the two fronts, that in terms of proportions and surface area, are the same of a regular industrial building, so in that way we can insert the different activities of the program and elemental situations (showroom, administrative facilities, truck access, etc):
Access: A first folding that allowed the access to the showroom through the corner, recognizing from a single view the two folded facades of the building.
Work and view: A second folding of the west facade generates the office volume, allowing the views (the main demand of the client) to the future “los maitenes” park (hoping it will be ready in a year or two), separated from the industrial activities and with as much natural light as possible.
Work and production: Generating the larger folding to “rio itata” street, a big five meter overhang that forms the roof protecting the loading and unloading activities from rain and strong sun, connecting this space fluidly with the rest of the building.