The second edition of the workshop organized by the School of Architecture (EA) of Universidad San Sebastián (Chile) had as main guest the Spanish architect Alberto Veiga, founding partner of Barozzi / Veiga and author of projects such as the Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin and Ribera del Duero Headquarters. In addition to engaging in a series of debates with the participants of the workshop, Veiga had a public conversation with the Chilean architect Pedro Alonso (winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale 2014) and shared the studio’s work and reflections on architecture in a master lecture.
A total of 10 teams from different schools of architecture in the country came together for the 2017 version of this initiative, reaching a total of 67 participants among students and instructors. Seeking to favor the production of projects capable of promoting debate, each day of the workshop dealt with a different topic featuring guest scholars: Ernesto Silva, director of the School of Architecture (strategies), Pedro Alonso, renowned professor and researcher (arguments) and Albert Tidy, dean of the Faculty of Architecture (materialization of the project). For the closing day, on Friday, October 13, there was a joint display with the final projects produced by the different teams (which remained open to the public for the next couple of weeks), and a camaraderie activity to celebrate both the gathering of the schools and the quality of the experience and its results.
Workshop's framework of action
Official description: The workshop was presented as a research delving into the instruments of the architectural project and their ability to respond to situations in which equations of different kinds coexist. The starting point was the exploration of the conception, evolution and limits of an imaginary in which the Chilean architecture of the last decades has founded its international image and prestige.
Undoubtedly, the rich geography of the country has placed it within the orbit of those places where architecture has been strongly dominated by a romantic vision of the landscape. In this context, the workshop distinguished five archetypal cases present in the Chilean territory, which served as the basis of the exercise. In the words of Alberto Veiga:
An island, a mountain, a forest, a beach, and a desert. Places of radical nature where practically nothing exists and—therefore—where everything can happen. [...] Places of tension, of elements meeting, of contrapositions and contradictions, that will serve as an excuse and a metaphor to recognize ideas as well as essential architectures.
The notion of ‘system of elements’ (such as pillars, walls, circulations, enclosures, etc.) was added to these five archetypal landscapes, aiming to foster the discussion around the established architectural canons, while at the same time seeking the configuration of an imaginary of their own. Consequently, the proposed program was a hotel, allowing a wide range and differentiation of venues, situations, and spatial configurations.
In this way, the 2017 edition of the EA USS Workshop proposed to discuss and challenge the widely internationalized notion of Chilean architecture as one of architectural objects—most commonly houses—that are visible when placed in a pristine, almost untouched, natural environment. In that sense, Chile has gained international prestige not only due to its prominent architectural production but also to the construction of the idea that Chilean architecture is one that undoubtedly is based on an extraordinary landscape, as evidenced by publications such as Blanca Montaña: Arquitectura reciente en Chile (Puro Chile, 2010) and the image exported by different hotel chains, in which the hotel—understood as a kind of relative of the second home on a larger scale—always contrasts with an imposing natural scenery.
[E1] Universidad de las Américas
Instructors: Sebastián López, Diego Romero
Students: Rafael Abarca, Viviana Fuentealba, Pablo Flores, Cristian González, Felipe Vega
Project description: The proposal builds an enclave taking into account three conditions proper of the mountains: topography, verticality, and watercourses. The extreme environment of the mountains is understood as a place which only explorers can reach, therefore the scale of the hotel is reduced to that of a shelter. The project is proposed as an opaque monolithic element that only establishes vertical relationships with the surroundings, denying both views and horizontal relationships through the generation of walls of a programmatic thickness. While the monumentality of the project expressed by its scale and materiality—concrete—seeks to rescue the primitiveness of inhabiting the mountains, the proposed spaces generate new experiences and relationships associated with the sky.
[E2] Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Instructor: Álvaro Arancibia
Students: José Hassi, Ramiro Riquelme, Ignacio Romero, Consuelo Sagal
Project description: The project is based on the pillar as a system to define both a structural and spatial logic, which allows the deployment of a number of possibilities in terms of layout and composition, thus solving the entire program and domestic functions of the hotel. In response to the above, the pillar acquires different diameters and densities as well as different degrees of opacity, which ultimately define the internalization or externalization of the program according to its relationship with the surrounding landscape.
[E3] Universidad de Santiago de Chile
Instructors: Rodrigo Aguilar, Oscar Luengo
Students: Franco Candia, Matías Coloma, Paulina Cordero, Felipe Orellana, Tomás Salazar
Project description: The Chilean desert is characterized by a sum of aggressive contrasts of visual, climatic and phenomenological order, generating conditions of extreme hostility for human habitation. We believe that protection becomes essential and, therefore, the need for shelter becomes a priority, avoiding, however, the notion of total enclosure. At this point, transparency becomes fundamental to contemplate an environment that is projected as a blank canvas, leaving bare our need to be aware of our personal location within the desert’s infinity, as well as the projection of horizontal and vertical spectacles related, on the one hand, to the vastness and panoramic immensity and, on the other, to the sky and its astronomical display.
[E4] Universidad Central
Instructors: Cristián Frías
Students: Maximiliano Aliaga, Christian Araneda, Jesús Chuquipoma, Sebastián Hermosilla, Diego Lacazette
Project description: The given landscape is at the same time concrete and imaginary. In the manner of Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ or Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, it is a carefully mapped mental territory to which we have decided to rigorously adhere. By reconciling the characteristics and measurements of the landscape with the requirements of the architectural program and the self-imposed logic of ‘compartitioning,’ a 30-meter translucent stone cube appears levitating on the rocks. A mirage for cloudy days, a moon for moonless nights. We describe it as an artificial rock, a provoked discontinuity, a universe of rock gardens contrasted by light, airy and heavy, the sea is absent but present.
[E5] Universidad de Chile
Instructors: Miguel Casassus, Alberto Fernández
Students: Miguel Acuña, Catalina Briones, Enzo Ghizolfo, Elías Parra, Andrew San Martín
Project description: An island supposes a distance; perceiving an island involves taking distance: as we get closer, the island is no longer an island but a bay, a cape, a peninsula. The rich ambivalence of the island in the imaginary is observed from different angles: an island involves both a journey to the intimate and an opening to infinity. No matter how hard we try, any building will be a stain in the insular imaginary. We prefer to safeguard distances, multiple journeys and unveil the landscape. Thus, the hotel disintegrates around the island forming a constellation of stations on the sea. The interventions on the actual land are reduced to a series of docks and minimum shelters. While the permanence on the island is temporary, the long stays take place in the floating monoliths. Inhabiting the hotel becomes a journey: it requires constant travel between docks and shelters, forming a true navigation chart.
[E6] Universidad Diego Portales
Instructors: Hugo Gálvez, Lucas Maino
Students: Diego Cervantes, Mauricio Cornejo, Sofía Laso, Felipe Sepúlveda, César Valarezo
Project description: By abstracting the concept of forest to a compound system, the tree trunks and foliage—and the sum of both—configure a replicable structural module that supports the second construction. In doing so, the pillar, its system, and its capabilities can be fully radicalized, adapting to the terrain in order to reach certain strata resulting from the topographic depression of the area. For this, the system's poles are extended keeping the volume suspended, which in turn fulfills the role of being a cabin capable of satisfying the visitors’ every need, which implies generating different spatialities from a single constructive principle or model.
[E7] Universidad Mayor
Instructors: Alejandro Avaría, Sebastián Cifuentes, Fernanda Flores, Andrés Pascal
Students: Camila Araya, Felipe Beroiza, Carlos León, Lucas Ormazábal, Joaquín Pardo
Project description: The mountains—a territory originated by friction and constructed by pieces of different magnitudes—gives rise to the understanding of a dispersed territory, full of porosity and relief, where circulation is nothing more than an opportunity to build relationships through the friction of elements. In that sense, the proposal for the hotel posits, on the one hand, a regular element in an irregular terrain, and, on the other, a path that connects two mountain peaks, building a connection between fragments within the territory. The magnitude of this component forces us to think its proportion, a spatial structure configured by two steel beams, with a section in line with its spanning distance. Its position on two peaks intensifies the experience of distance and climb to the top, which maintains the wildness while at the same time concentrates comfort, transforming the image of the landscape through the presence of a dominant piece, stressing the territory.
[E8] Universidad San Sebastián – Sede Concepción
Instructors: Alberto Álvarez, Patricio Escobar
Students: Brenda Donoso, Loreto Medina, Claudia Muñoz, Felipe Quiero, Camila Riquelme
I Forest: Irregular grouping of similar elements, with the preeminence of the vertical dimension.
II Enclosure: Space defined by a limit and thus differentiated from another.
III Architecture: Driven modification of reality so as to achieve specific conditions.
IV Hotel: Establishment capable of comfortably accommodating guests.
V Landscapes: We understand the statement ‘hotel = forest + enclosure’ as a way to inhabit the forest through a system of enclosures that define three landscapes: the existing natural one; the artificial or superimposed one; and the combined, resulting from the relationship between the two previous ones. Three landscapes generated by a basic ergonomic condition: a high horizontal surface.
[E9] Universidad San Sebastián – Sede Puerto Montt
Instructor: Cristóbal Noguera
Students: Ignacio Echeverría, Francisca Heyser, Angello Igor, Paz Sandoval, Giovani Valeria
Project description: The internal organization opposes the condition of the inhabited and the natural; water as a vital and necessary element surrounds the areas close to man. As a counterpart, the denser vegetation—the unexplored—gives character to the place. The cross-like-wall rationalizes these situations in niches. Inwardly, it accommodates the most basic dwelling—sleep—and while the personal space is arranged in the perimeter, public services give life to a central axis.
[E10] Universidad San Sebastián – Sede Santiago
Instructor: Iván Bravo
Students: Fernando Ahumada, Bastián Cofré, Gerson Pedrero, Alejandra Segura, Alonso Veloso
Project description: The assignment is understood as a self-imposed constriction in which the three basic elements given belong to an archetype (the archetype hotel, the archetype island, and the archetype opacity). The strategy lies in combining the historical, cultural, building and programmatic equations: hence, the island is located within a typical territorial context of Chile, south of the world; a hotel in the archipelagos or coastal fjords. A stereotypical model of the hotel is exported (which could be in any given commonplace), at the same time referring to the ‘fort’ and the idea of ‘taking over the place,’ where the program is transformed into a series of activities in relation to the proposed location. While the opacity is transferred as a typical design of the south, small openings with localized and framed views appear, understanding the building just as a place to spend the night.
Organizers: Faculty of Architecture - Universidad San Sebastián
Guests: Alberto Veiga, Pedro Alonso
Workshop director: Ernesto Silva
Public events: Lecture by Alberto Veiga: “A sentimental monumentality”; and “Imperfect future” a conversation with Pedro Alonso and Alberto Veiga
Workshop activities: Lecture by Claudio Palavecino, “Design rules: Definitions” / Conversation with Alberto Veiga and Ernesto Silva: “Project strategies” / Conversation with Alberto Veiga and Pedro Alonso: “Project arguments” / Conversation with Alberto Veiga and Albert Tidy: “Project materialization”
Patronage: Colegio de Arquitectos de Chile
Sponsors: Asociación de Oficinas de Arquitectos de Chile, Arauco, Bercia, Hunter Douglas, HP, Microgeo, Tecnoplot
Media Partners: ArchDaily
Coordination team: Camila Méndez, Rafaela Olivares, Rayna Razmilic
Brief and background information: Camila Méndez, Rafaela Olivares, Paula Orta, Anita Saldes
Photographs: Fernando Torres