PhotographyCourtesy of Solis Colomer arquitectos
Text description provided by the architects. San Felipe Chenla School is one of the 7 schools that are part of the "Schools Nebaj" program in Quiché. This project is a grant from the International Cooperation Agency of Korea (KOICA), which seeks to dignify educational facilities in needy areas in the Guatemalan highlands and other locations.
The project was to insert a new module of classrooms in existing educational equipment, which had classrooms modules in a degenerative state. This new intervention seeks to give a new perspective to education in areas where the majority of educational facilities are made with the minimum of quality requirements.
The Quiché area is characteristic for possessing a Mayan cultural legacy, which is readable in its inhabitants for the tissues used in dressing, cutting and huipil, which have a characteristic color that varies depending on the geographic area where the inhabitant precedence. Similarly highland topography has unique characteristics which can be seen in the various natural profiles that are formed as the Cuchumatanes develops from north to south throughout Guatemala. These features were the starting point of the school of San Felipe Chenla, which seeks an architectural composition with three different languages: the tectonics, the huipil and the topography.
The basic building construction is summarized in several vertical planes of exposed concrete modulated by 6.25 m, which define the space in which the different modules classrooms are contained. The choice of materials and construction system responded to the speed of construction requirements and the relationship that a material like concrete can have with the context of Nebaj: a construction in cold appearance would seem an anomaly with the green surroundings and the different houses in the area. However, the weather, which is cold and misty regularly, makes the module mimetize and part of the immediate context.
We wanted that the huipil, an ornament, which is a necessary part of the dress of the inhabitants, be translated into the concrete skeleton fences, cheering and making the same relationship with both the dress color of the inhabitants as to vegetation site. This enclosure system consists in a sliding door system that has a doble function, a duality: the first is to consolidate the building, defining it, and the other is to liberate it into the landscape of the Cuchumatanes. To support the enclosure system, the furniture was chosen to encourage each of the different classes that make up the building.
Finally, we wanted to create a relationship of topography with the architectural object.
This was achieved by modifying the surface topography of the second level, creating unevenness in the slab, which makes the user feel a similar experience of moving in an area with irregular topography.
This project achieves therefore a relationship between topography, culture and the user, and in turn increases the perception of educational facilities in a neglected area.