LOCATION: Neighborhood 31, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The premises instigated in the brief of the competition for Maria Elena Walsh Educational Complex have a clear objective: to add a new and valuable factor of urbanity that positions and strengthens Neighborhood 31 on an urban and architectural scale.
At the same time, the project must take on another intrinsic challenge: Revitalize a degraded area and give rise to a new centrality. In short, become the icon of change and integration of Neighborhood 31 with the City. These characteristics make it a flagship building, in which society is reflected and identified, as part of its current city-development plan.
As a disciplinary position, far from adopting a nostalgic or romantic view of the neighborhood, the building is implanted as a symbol of a new urban model that attracts and extends the benefits of centrality. It order to create an innovative image, the building is designed using materials characteristic of contemporaneity, in which the expression of the steel structure predominates, together with aluminum and glass. However, they are also reflective materials of the context of the building, taking the characteristic colors and textures of the neighborhood. It is considered a key point to assure the urban landscape reconversion and consolidation.
Following the guidelines of the city-development plan, and adding to the effort of completing an ecological corridor on the current highway President Arturo Illia, the immediate context of the project was design as a productive / recreational park in current YPF plot, where 1200 houses are designed to relocate affected families.
In this line of thought, a meta-topography is generated as building basement, with its main entrance facing East, in contact with the park. The atrium, located on the first level, serves as a meeting place, for both the inhabitants of the neighborhood, as well as all employees and the users of the ministry.
The location of the building in a sector of the city where the street layout is unconventional, must be taken care of accordingly, understanding the zero level as a platform without unevenness, undivided where priority is given to the contact between the neighborhood, the building and the future park, and in which the vehicular circulation is pedestrian-priority.
As a starting point for the organization of the functional program, it is established to locate the schools on the ground floor, using them as interchanging devices with the urban fabric. In turn, they are arranged in the perimeter, deliberately extroverted and in direct contact with the public realm, understanding and exhibiting public education as a synergistic right of the inhabitants of Neighborhood 31.
The parking spaces are located underground, with capacity for 378 vehicles, distributed in two levels, whose entree is placed on the street of current access to the property, Carlos Perette. The offices of the Ministry are located at the higher levels, using the schools as podium. Programmatic flexibility is a property considered fundamental to the correct functioning of mixed-use programs in a contemporary world in which social demands continually mutate. This need for flexibility is enhanced for offices, a program that is usually reconfigured in line with constantly evolving technological changes in data processing and customer service. Therefore, to accommodate the program, a ramp in the form of a continuous spiral is used as main strategy, with an average slope that does not exceed 1.9%, being practically imperceptible when walking, and extremely efficient for the correct development of working spaces, which are organized around a central vacuum bathed in natural sky lighting. To complement the circulatory system, a series of bridges tie the different levels and programs generating "shortcuts" that encourage the pedestrian circulation over the mechanical means of transportation.
From the conjunction of two factors: Workspaces conceived as open-offices and the low height of the built environment, the building becomes a urban-contemplation space of 360 degrees towards the privileged views of the City, from its contact with Rio de la Plata, the Port, Neighborhood 31, the infrastructural system of Retiro and the characteristic skyline of Libertador Avenue. A series of perimeter terraces allow decompressing the outer space acting as leisure spaces and accentuating the condition of urban viewpoint.
The structure was conceived with a clear objective: to obtain an efficient resolution of the project understanding that the spatial conception of a building it is linked with an efficient structural design. The functional needs of the building (open-offices) pave the way to a singular and innovative building typology without pillars in the operating area. In short, the structure defines the spatiality and the image of the building. For this, a new tectonic system is used, consisting of a series of Vierendeel beams of double level of height, which supports reciprocally to each other, to solve the spatial-programmatic spiral. It explores the potential of load-bearing façade as a building system. Complementarily, the central space is a continuous structural core of Vierendeel beams of single level.
For the schools and the garage, an in-situ concrete structure was chosen. The transition occurs on the ground floor, and the interstitial space between the two systems is used to allocate technical equipment.
In fact, the structure concept acquires, besides its static and resistant function, an outstanding role in the design and architectural composition of the project, influencing in a decisive way the avant-garde image of the building.