Winner Chosen to Design Annex to Chile's National History Museum

The winner of a competition to design a new extension for Chile's National History Museum has been announced. The competition, hosted by The Chilean Architecture Department of the Ministry of Public Works and the Department of Libraries, Archives and Museums, called for an 8,612 square feet annex devoted to exhibition and storage space. From the 54 proposals received, Aguiló + Pedraza Architects' stood out.

The Architect's description of the proposal, after the break.

Courtesy of Aguiló + Pedraza arquitectos

A hall between two courtyards

Rather than designing a new courtyard, the project proposes a new hall between the firefighters' court and the courtyard of the historical building. The construction of an interior void of 56 x 56 x 46 feet is the primary focus of the project. 

A cube with 6 faces

There are 6 faces that form new programs and relate them to the existing building and the center of the block.

Southern face: historic wall

Cross cut of North and South facade

The interior character of the enclosure, protected from rain, permits the display of the non-plastered historic wall. It exposes the materiality of the building and the nobility of its construction, juxtaposing the ancient stone and mortar technique of 1804 with the new building. There are three apertures in the historical wall, one of which permits the continuation of the existing geometric axis of the firefighters' courtyard and brings value to the sequence of interior voids of the space. The two other perforations connect the permanent exhibition with the new exposition halls, giving continuity to the museum route. 

Western face: 3 exhibition halls

The 69 x 36 x 15 ft measurements of each enclosure give each the feel of a salon rather than a hall. In the first basement level, laboratories participate in the central space through English courtyards, acting as public shop windows displaying the internal activities of the museum.   

Courtesy of Aguiló + Pedraza arquitectos

Northern face: circulation

A sculptural staircase relates all the levels to one another, connecting distant halls and programs of the museum. Through the stair it's also possible to glimpse the magnificent trees of the central courtyard. The northern face is suspended, creating an empty space that relates the courtyard to the museum. Finally, circulation routes connect the exhibition hall to the rest of the building.

Eastern face: administration

Longitudinal section of East facade

The structure of the existing building remains unchanged, only remodeling its facilities to house the museum's full administration. A new structure - a continuous veil of alternating translucent and transparent panels - is fixed to the ceiling and the western facade.  

Top face: diffusor of light

The roof is constructed from metal trusses coated on both sides with translucent materials - one to prevent water permeability and the other to uniformly seal the ceiling. In this way, direct sun exposure is avoided and excess light can be controlled. At night it functions as a giant lamp.


Bottom face: floor and roof

The floor of the hall is of brilliant white granite; the auditorium ceiling is of coarse wood. 

Roof and Basement

The first of the two subterranean levels holds the laboratories and an auditorium. These spaces are connected to the central space via the English courtyards, which act as window-fronts that display the interior activities of the museum and create a semi-public spatial thickness, mediating the public routes of the exhibition and the private work of conservation and storage (which takes place in the last sub-level).   

On the roof, two terraces and the casino are the final destinations of the vertical circulations, both for the exhibition's visitors and the administration.

Ground level

Interventions made to the historical building

The reception is relocated between the new hall and the existing courtyard. Next to it are the cafeteria and the museum shop, from which the exhibition begins. The library is expanded and the offices and educational halls are relocated to the southwest corner of the historical building. This way public programs are concentrated around the courtyard, giving the new hall a tighter condition.

  • Concurso

    Competition for an Annex to the National History Museum of Chile
  • Premio

    First Place
  • Nombre de la Obra

    A Hall Between Two Courtyards
  • Architects

  • Location

    Plaza de Armas, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
  • Architects in Charge

    Diego Aguiló y Rodrigo Pedraza
  • Heritage Architecture Specialist

    Álvaro Pedraza G.
  • Civil Engineer

    Joel Contreras Gaete
  • Associated Architects

    José Gabriel Lemaître P. y Mauricio Urzúa
  • Area

    8612.0 f2
  • Year

  • Images

    Courtesy of Aguiló + Pedraza arquitectos

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Cite: Cabezas, Constanza. "Winner Chosen to Design Annex to Chile's National History Museum" [Primer Lugar Concurso Edificio Anexo Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile] 21 Oct 2013. ArchDaily. (Trans. Porada, Barbara) Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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