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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. University
  4. Chile
  5. Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL
  6. 2014
  7. Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL

Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL

  • 01:00 - 22 September, 2014
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL, © ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic
© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh +22

  • Architects

  • Location

    Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Project Team

    Alejandro Aravena, Juan Cerda
  • Collaborators

    Samuel Gonçalves, Cristián Irarrázaval, Álvaro Ascoz, Natalie Ramirez, Christian Lavista, Suyin Chia, Pedro Hoffmann
  • Area

    8176.0 m2
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

  • Structural Engineering

    Sirve S.A.
  • Client

    Grupo Angelini, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • Site Area

    455351 sqm (San Joaquin Campus’ area)
  • Cost

    18 millions USD
  • More SpecsLess Specs
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

From the architect. In 2011, Angelini Group decided to donate the necessary funds to create a center where companies, businesses and more in general, demand, could converge with researchers and state of the art university knowledge creation. The aim was to contribute to the process of transferring know-how, identifying business opportunities, adding value to existing resources or registering patents in order to improve the country’s competitiveness and consequently its development. The Universidad Católica de Chile would host such a center and allocated a site in its San Joaquin Campus. 

7th Floor Plan Section South Elevation Situation Plan +22

Our proposal to accommodate such goals was to design a building in which at least 4 forms of work could be verified: a matrix of formal and informal work crossed by individual and collective ways of encountering people. In addition to that, we thought that face to face contact is unbeatable when one wants to create knowledge, so we multiplied throughout the building the places where people could meet: from the elevator’s lobby with a bench where to sit if you happen to run into somebody that has interesting information to share, to a transparent atrium where you can sneak into what others are doing while circulating vertically, to elevated squares throughout the entire height of the building.

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

The reversal of the typical office space floor plan (replacing the opaque core with transparent curtain wall glass perimeter by an open core with the mass strategically opened in the perimeter) responded not only to functional reasons but to the environmental performance and character of the building as well.

© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic
© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic

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.

Ground Floor Plan
Ground Floor Plan

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.

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL" 22 Sep 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


disqus_Ucvgiw7beI · January 14, 2016

How does the final roof seem so thin??? someone please reply i've been looking everywhere

Jeet Bakhai · August 17, 2015


nitin bathla · May 19, 2015

He is definitely inspired from Corbusier's museum of unlimited growth. The museums he built in India & Japan had the very same typology, A Swastika inspired plan, entrance through the courtyard and predominantly blank facade.

Beverycool · May 18, 2015

Excellent - what a relief from yet another overblown, could be anywhere, self-aggrandising, CAD form making monster, with no regard to context or scale, justified by some meaningless diatribe. · November 06, 2014

That's the ArchDaily logo!!!

Hunter Clement · September 24, 2014

Really like their thought-process here. Amazing how a simple flip of typical office building language (glass facade, concrete core) can produce a true contemporary piece of architecture. Well done!

Andrei P. · September 24, 2014

Building of the year! At least in my opinion.

Asbjörn Andresen · September 23, 2014

I like it . I like the argumentation, simply like it! I have done art/architecture in the same mood

Julio Cifuentes · September 23, 2014

pragmatic and thoughtful...going against the grain. I love elemental.

Piyawee Tarasombat · September 23, 2014

Nice, smooth execution.

Ivo · September 23, 2014

buena escultura ! ... lástima el ruido visual y oscuridad del vacío central ... permearlo desplazando las secciones ...

John-David Carling · September 23, 2014

I am in love yet again

Borat · September 22, 2014

Verry nice!

Connely Farr · September 22, 2014


Trent · September 22, 2014

Wow! Bad A S S !

Daniel Arbelaez · September 22, 2014



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© ELEMENTAL | Nina Vidic

UC 创新中心 Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL事务所 - Anacleto Angelini / Alejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL