For houses throughout the world, the barriers between the inside and outside of houses are solid and well-defined, allowing the spaces within the home to be protected from the weather conditions outside and made comfortable for the inhabitants inside. In countries like Colombia, which sit close to the equator and enjoy a warm, subtropical climate, temperatures average just above ideal thermal comfort.
The focus of buildings should ultimately be the well-being of the people using them. When we think of our experiences in hospitals, clinics, the dentist's office, and other medical facilities, the feeling is rarely pleasant. Perhaps it's the smells, the dull, monotone colors, or the sound of medical gadgets working away on some unlucky patient.
In countries where architecture adapts to the seasons, projects must respond so that they are comfortable for the users, both in the hot summer temperatures and in the cold winter. Tropical countries, such as Colombia, are a bit luckier. The temperature of construction sites depends less on the seasons and more on where they are located geographically according to the altitude above sea level; the closer they are to the sea, the warmer it is. For this reason, it is not essential to seal or insulate the interior spaces. On the contrary, the good management of constant ventilation creates a more permeable and contextual architecture.
We have put together a series of projects with different architectural programs: local markets, health facilities, cultural, education and housing projects. They show that with different construction techniques, you can begin to control the permeability, air flow, privacy or solar heat gain. Explore each of these projects below.
Brick is one of the most widely used materials in Colombia, making the architectural designs in its capital city, Bogotá, stand out worldwide. Due to the excellent quality of the clay found in some regions of the country, brick is used in all aspects of construction, from adobe floor slabs to exterior facades.
Concrete has long had a close relationship with the earth; as the favorite material for the creation of building foundations, one of its most common uses is effectively as a more reliable replacement for soil. In the twentieth century, concrete’s ability to transform our interaction with the ground was taken to the next step. As architects and engineers explored the opportunities offered by a combination of reinforced concrete and the modernist mindset, multiple attempts were made to replace the ground in a more dramatic way: by creating a new ground, separated from the earth itself. Most widespread among these plans was the engineer’s elevated highway which emerged worldwide, and the most relevant to architects the “streets in the sky” embodied by developments such as the Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens. Newcastle-upon-Tyne offers a city-wide example of this theory, embarking on an ambitious plan to become the “Brasilia of the North” by creating an elevated network of pedestrian routes entirely separated from the automobiles below - though the project was abandoned in the 1970s with only small sections implemented.
After Modernism’s dramatic fall from grace in the 1970s and 80s, this project to reinterpret the ground with concrete was largely forgotten. Of course architects still used concrete in their designs, but they were content with a purely traditional relationship to the ground: their buildings were discrete entities which sat upon the earth, and nothing more. However, as explored at length in Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s 2011 book Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, recent years have shown architects willing to work upon the ground once again, in new and exciting ways. In the years since Landform Building’s publication, this trend has only intensified, as demonstrated by the following three projects.