España Library

Topography and Geography

Rather than an architectural object, we pretend to develop a landscape related to geography and urban topography inserted there in; we search for organizational rules to develop projects that favor a ´´new natural contract´´. We fold, map, and tear; operations that build architecture-landscape at the same time, reformulating relations between depth and figure, an approximation in the search of alternative ideas capable of favoring that ´´new natural contract´´ tuned with a landscape and a natural order

Program requirements and preconditions

The project is located in one of the hillsides most affected by the violence in the eighties because of drug trafficking in the city of Medellin and is part of the social inclusion agenda of the Mayor to provide equal opportunities in social and economic development to the population.

The competition program called for a multi-building (library, training rooms, exhibition hall, auditorium and administration) in a single volume, the proposal seek to divide the program into three groups: the library, classrooms and offices training, and the audience composed of a lower platform, allowing us greater flexibility and autonomy in their use, making the community more participative.

Rationale for compositional solution adopted

Medellin as Geography, is a mountain. The city is located in the northern Andes, in one of the most broken topography in Colombia, its main characteristic is given by its mountains and the geography that defines the identity and image of the city, is what the citizens take as an element of identification. The proposal is related to the image and identify of the city, through architectural-landscape, part of its landscape inspires the building to be interpreted as a new topography.

Rather than a building we propose an operational geography that is part of the valley, as a mechanism for organizing the program and the area, making the hidden and irregular contours of the mountain to stand out, not as a metaphor, but as a way of organizing the space in the area, a folded and clipped building similar to the hills.

A landscape Building that redefines the folded structure of the mountain as form and space, eliminating the idea of landscape as a background and enhancing the building ambiguity-landscape.

Rationale for urban integration of the proposal

This border of the city is composed of complicated paths product of the slope topography displacement, therefore making it impossible to have meeting places and plazas. The project is organized under two structures: the first, by buildings and landscape (rocks) and the second by a platform that integrates them and transforms it into a deck-plaza that functions as an outlook towards the valley. The building works as meeting gathering place for the community, allowing the area to stand out as an icon.

The sector consists of small brick houses caused by self construction and waste of green areas, resulting from the inability to build on steeps slopes, this organization produces a uniform texture of the city with no visible hierarchy. This is why the proposed building seeks to stand out as a building-landscape icon, constructing the site and maintaining the tension, the geography as an element of hierarchy and the architecture as a texture.

The project is visible from much of the city as a symbol of the new Medellin, making people able to identify their community and build a greater sense of belonging. Today it is one of the tourist attractions of the city.

The project is a double-support structure: the first consists of an articulated metal membrane that supports and arms the exterior skin panels; the second is a particular portal concrete frame structure that makes up the internal volume, dilated from the outer skin, to allow entry of light from above. The platform consists of a mixed structure of steel columns and concrete plates, the materials used were, black slate, stained glass and various wood veneers and stone floors.

A regulated temperature mechanism was designed, a “thermosyphon”, through the creation of a system of air circulation upstream (negative pressure) removing excess of heat and allowing the optimization of solar energy.

Environment and atmosphere

The other premise was to design the interior in a way that would decontextualize the user and bring him out of his immediate poverty environment, building a warm atmosphere and reflection, based on the light coming from above, and enabling a suitable environment for reading and studying. That is why the facade of the building was designed with very small openings (windows) letting the light penetrate into the interior.


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