Text description provided by the architects. The task involved the creation of a cultural space for three types of activities: The leisure center for children up to 14 years, the center for cultural activities, and the multipurpose space.
The urban space where the cultural center was to be located was a small lot in Plaza Miguel Aso, which according to the urban plan of the city, only allowed construction on the ground floor, with height up to the roof slab level, not exceeding the height of the ground floors of the surrounding buildings.
In order to complete the required program, the preceding circumstances forced us to consider the construction of a basement level to double the area of the building, and necessarily so, since the execution of a semi-basement involved reducing the headroom above ground.
The children’s activities should be located on the ground floor, but the structural metal edges to span 16m and the height limitations under ground level (<4m), due to the fire protection regulations, prevented the execution of the multipurpose space on the basement level.
In this vein, the location of children and cultural uses on the basement level seems appropriate. The floor on the ground level is reserved for the common needs and the location of the multipurpose space. The layout seeks maximum use of the available area.
Seen this way, and considering that the program on the basement level demands light, or should I say, architecture, the obsession was to fill the space with the light that didn’t exist but that we felt needed to be its most prominent character. The building is sensed as an object that captures light, integrated as an urban element into the plaza. The height of the other buildings dominates our object and its roof plan becomes another facade, a space within the urban environment.
The light is achieved by three mechanisms: First, the use of two glass stairwells situated at the two ends of the northeast facade, that act as vertical cores and the location of service spaces. Second, the design of a double facade with exterior glass and interior operable carpentry towards the southeast and southwest. These form an L shape that goes over the entire length and width of the multipurpose room, in order to drench in light the basement walls located towards the same orientation. Third, the location of an opening – courtyard on the southeast facade that traverses the entire section of the building. The program on the basement level, that is, the rooms for cultural activities, the spaces for the leisure center, the distribution and connection areas and the access to the level are laid out around this opening.
In the present context, our object is positioned as a pure volume of glass, in the places where we need to capture light in the entire section, and galvanized steel in the areas in which the action of small openings, seek habitable spaces.
We wanted to install a skylight in the urban void, a sensor of architecture.