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Chile's "Monolith Controversies" - Winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale

Between 1931 and 1981, the Soviet Union exported a prefab concrete panel system for housing - whose development and exportation embodied the ideals of the modern movement - to countries around the world, creating more than 170 million apartments. In 1972, during the socialist government of Salvador Allende, the USSR donated a panel factory to Chile. The Chile KPD (an acronym derived from the Russian words for “large concrete panel”) produced a total of 153 buildings during its operation, before being shut down and forgotten during the military dictatorship.

The full story of the concrete panels produced in Chile had been buried in history, but research conducted by curators Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola for the Chile Pavilion has resurfaced the political, ideological and aesthetic implications of the panel. Monolith Controversies not only shows the technical aspects of a fundamental element of a prefab building system, but also demonstrates how it was connected to an ideology. Upon entering the Chile pavilion, visitors find themselves in the recreation of an interior of one of the apartments. Next they enter the main space, in which one concrete panel found by the curators stands as the representation of how modernity was absorbed in Chile.

In the Absorbing Modernity section of the Biennale, Koolhaas asked curators from all over the world to bring to light the ways modernism developed in their countries. The work done by the Chilean curators in the Monolith Controversies exhibition is one of the best examples of this call, recognized by the jury with the Silver Lion. Read on for the curator’s statement.

Monolith Controversies. Venice Biennale 2014. Image © Nico Saieh Monolith Controversies. Venice Biennale 2014. Image © Nico Saieh Monolith Controversies. Venice Biennale 2014. Image © Nico Saieh Monolith Controversies. Venice Biennale 2014. Image © Nico Saieh

Tunquén House / Nicolas Loi

  • Architects: Nicolas Loi
  • Location: Tunquen, Algarrobo, Valparaíso Region, Chile
  • Area: 250.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Marcos Mendizabal

© Marcos Mendizabal © Marcos Mendizabal © Marcos Mendizabal © Marcos Mendizabal

Synagogue and Community Center C.I.S. / JBA + Gabriel Bendersky + Richard von Moltke

© Aryeh Kornfeld
© Aryeh Kornfeld
  • Architects: JBA, Gabriel Bendersky , Richard von Moltke
  • Location: Comandante Malbec 13210, Lo Barnechea, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Architects In Charge: JBA (Jaime Bendersky Arquitectos), Gabriel Bendersky, Richard von Moltke
  • Area: 10218.0 sqm
  • Photographs: Aryeh Kornfeld

© Aryeh Kornfeld	© Aryeh Kornfeld	© Aryeh Kornfeld	© Aryeh Kornfeld

Fauna Hotel / Fantuzzi + Rodillo Arquitectos

  • Architects: Fantuzzi + Rodillo Arquitectos
  • Location: Paseo Dimalow 166, Valparaíso, Valparaíso Region, Chile
  • Architect In Charge: Roberto Fantuzzi, Jaime Rodillo
  • Area: 710.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Pablo Blanco

© Pablo Blanco © Pablo Blanco © Pablo Blanco © Pablo Blanco

Grupo Talca Wins 2014 YAP Chile with “Wicker Forest”

Grupo Talca’s four meter “Wicker Forest” has been announced as winner of the annual Young Architects Program (YAP) in Chile. Designed as an inhabitable landscape of wicker sticks, the red forested structure will “catch particles dragged by the wind, while providing shade and movement” to the visitors of CONSTRUCTO upon completion in Santiago next year. 

Grupo Talca is the fifth winner of YAP Chile, following the commission of UMWELT’s “climatically responsive container for artwork.” You can find more images of the Wicker Forest, after the break... 

Boulevard Las Brujas / Mas Fernandez Arquitectos

  • Architects: Mas Fernandez Arquitectos
  • Location: La Reina, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Architects In Charge: Cristóbal Fernández, Andrés Mas, Patricio Pinto, Antonio Mundi
  • Area: 5001.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Nico Saieh

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

Costanera Lyon 2 / Eugenio Simonetti + Renato Stewart

  • Architects: Eugenio Simonetti, Renato Stewart
  • Location: Providencia, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Design Team: Juan Santa Maria, Danilo Magni, Alvaro Romero
  • Area: 230000.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Pablo Casals-Aguirre, Courtesy of Eugenio Simonetti, Renato Stewart

© Pablo Casals-Aguirre © Pablo Casals-Aguirre © Pablo Casals-Aguirre © Pablo Casals-Aguirre

Casa CBI / SGGB Arquitectos

  • Architects: SGGB Arquitectos
  • Location: Puerto Varas, Los Lagos Region, Chile
  • Architect In Charge: Sebastián Guevara Sinclair
  • Area: 165.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Sebastian Guevara Sinclair

Courtesy of Sebastian Guevara Sinclair Courtesy of Sebastian Guevara Sinclair Courtesy of Sebastian Guevara Sinclair Courtesy of Sebastian Guevara Sinclair

GIZ / FAR frohn&rojas

Courtesy of FAR frohn&rojas Courtesy of FAR frohn&rojas Courtesy of FAR frohn&rojas Courtesy of FAR frohn&rojas

Universidad de Chile - Juan Gomez Millas Campus Classroom Building / Marsino Arquitectos Asociados

  • Architects: Marsino Arquitectos Asociados
  • Location: Las Palmeras, Ñuñoa, Región Metropolitana, Chile
  • Project Architects: Jorge Marsino P., María Inés Buzzoni G., Diego Achurra Q.
  • Project Area: 17787.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Felipe Díaz Contardo

© Felipe Díaz Contardo © Felipe Díaz Contardo © Felipe Díaz Contardo © Felipe Díaz Contardo

Hostal Ritoque / Gabriel Rudolphy + Alejandro Soffia

What If MOMA Had Expanded Underground (And Saved The American Folk Art Museum)?

In January of this year, the latest work by Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect chosen to design the next Serpentine Pavilion, opened to public acclaim. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino), located in Santiago de Chile, is a restoration project that managed to sensitively maintain an original colonial structure  - all while increasing the space by about 70%. 

Two days before the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art opened, the Museum of Metropolitan Art (MOMA) in New York issued a statement that it would demolish the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, in order to accomplish its envisioned expansion. Two weeks ago, preparations for demolition began.

Some background: MOMA had hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro a year earlier to design the expansion. The office asked for a period of six months to consider the possibilities of integrating the American Folk Art Museum into the design. After studying a vast array of options (unknown to the public) they were unable to accommodate MOMA’s shifting program needs with the AFAM building. They proposed a new circulation loop with additional gallery space and new program located where the AFAM is (was) located.

What appears here is not strictly a battle between an institution that wants to reflect the spirit of the time vs a building that is inherently specific to its place. It represents a lost design opportunity. What if the American Folk Art Museum had been considered an untouchable civic space in the city of New York, much like the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is for the city for Santiago? Then a whole new strategy for adaptive reuse would have emerged.

Renovation of the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art / Smiljan Radic. Image Courtesy of The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art Diagrams of the plan for the renovation of the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art / Smiljan Radic. Image Courtesy of Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino's Facebook Page Renovation of the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, in progress. Image Courtesy of Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino's Facebook Page Renovation of the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art / Smiljan Radic. Image © Nico Saieh

School of Design and Institute of Urban Studies / Sebastián Irarrázaval

  • Architect: Sebastián Irarrázaval
  • Location: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile - Monsenor Carlos Casanueva, Providencia, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Associated Architects: Cristián Irarrázaval, Francisca Rivera
  • Project Management: Departamento de Infraestructura de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • Technical Inspection: Dictuc
  • Area: 4716.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photos: Nico Saieh

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

ELEMENTAL Proposes Pedestrian Path To Connect Districts of Santiago

ELEMENTAL has given us details on a proposed 14.5 km pedestrian and bike path within Santiago, Chile that will run along the base of San Cristobal Hill and connect the city's many distinct communities. According to ELEMENTAL, the proposal - named "Metropolitan Promenade" - seeks to facilitate the use and quality of the city's public spaces.

The total project will cost about $16 million USD and will be constructed in two stages. The first is expected for March 2015 and will deal with 7.2 kilometers in the western sector of the park. The second stage, which should be ready in September 2015, will complete the following 7.3 kilometers in the eastern sector of the park.

Read the full architect's description, after the break.

Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Courtesy of ELEMENTAL © Guy Wenborne. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL

Edificio Vitra / Sebastián Larroulet + Arturo López + Francisco Vergara A.

  • Architects: Sebastián Larroulet, Arturo López, Francisco Vergara A.
  • Location: Santiago, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Area: 8286.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Cristian Brahona, Courtesy of Sebastián Larroulet, Arturo López, Francisco Vergara

Courtesy of Sebastián Larroulet, Arturo López, Francisco Vergara Courtesy of Sebastián Larroulet, Arturo López, Francisco Vergara Courtesy of Sebastián Larroulet, Arturo López, Francisco Vergara © Cristian Brahona

Condominio Polo Cachagua Etapa 1 / Estudio Valdés

© Felipe Díaz Contardo
© Felipe Díaz Contardo
  • Architects: Estudio Valdés
  • Location: Federico Kohnenkampf, Zapallar, Valparaíso Region, Chile
  • Architect In Charge: Leonardo Valdés Cruz, Carlos Ignacio Cruz Elton, Alberto Cruz Elton
  • Area: 1286.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Felipe Díaz Contardo

© Felipe Díaz Contardo © Felipe Díaz Contardo © Felipe Díaz Contardo © Felipe Díaz Contardo