CRM-MG Head Office Building – 2nd place
|Architects||Alexandre Brasil, André Luiz Prado, Bruno Santa Cecília e Carlos Alberto Maciel|
|Location||Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil|
Designing the new head office of the Regional Council of Medicine in Minas Gerais implies recognizing the need to represent the public and open character of the institution and the emphatic demarcation of the Council’s presence in the urban space. Given the Council’s pedagogical function, its architecture seeks to be exemplary and pedagogically disseminate solutions that qualify the urban space by valuing emptiness and openness, by granting free accessibility and its public character, distinguishing the building by the rigorous and inventive constructive solutions applied, while also presenting an environmentally correct approach due to its active response to the specificities of the climate, resulting in a reduction in energy consumption and a higher quality of ambience in workspaces.
To achieve so, the following architectural solutions were adopted:
1- The enhancement of the building’s presence through the creation of a large front landscape, in order to differentiate its implantation logic in relation to the other buildings in the immediate surroundings. To do so, the visible built mass was significantly reduced through the use of the subsoil, freeing up the terrain at street level in order to enhance the emptiness and urbanity, allowing the fruition of the set with a greater openness of sight and greater monumentality.
2- Partial dematerialization of the main volume, fragmented into the different planes that conceive the facade in order to generate greater variety and plastic quality of the set and reduce the perception of a mass resting on pilotis that would result from the simple projection of functional articulations in the volumetry. This variety makes it possible to differentiate openings and gables according to the specificities of use and climate.
3- The application of an absolutely rational constructive solution, using a minimum of materials while seeking the maximum exploration of the potential of each element in all technical-functional and aesthetic possibilities in order to ensure, quoting Lucio Costa, a “vigorous plastic health”. For this, white marble appears as the main sealing material, not just cladding – dispensing auxiliary masonry and functioning as a great light filter, during the day granting natural lighting to indoor spaces, and inversely at night as a lantern that emphasizes the building’s presence.
4– The characterization of a well-marked transition between public and private domains, establishing a gradation of spaces from the street to the inside of the building in order to establish an inviting atmosphere for those arriving, in addition to clearly guiding the different flows of users towards different activities, always emphasizing the greater hierarchical importance of the Council over other activities.
5- The rich ambience of internal spaces through voids that at the same time integrate the related work areas and differentiate the activities of the convention center, cafeteria, Council.
6- The inventive exploration of plastic and constructive solutions as elements of the climate control of indoor environments, reducing the direct incidence of sunlight on work areas, increasing internal luminosity, dispensing the use of artificial lighting on clear days, and allowing permanent natural ventilation to significantly reduce the use of air conditioning.
The institution’s party and public character: volumetry, plastic expression and constructive rigor
The elimination of any differentiation between the base and the main volume avoids the dichotomy between the convention center and the Council, ensuring the hierarchical differentiation between the parts and the protagonism of the volume that houses core activity as the main definer of the institution’s image in the urban scene.
The main corner void valorization contributes to enhance the building’s presence in the urban space, since it establishes a strong contrast with the large built masses immediately adjacent. The opposite alternative, of expanding the built volume to the maximum, would never supplant the surrounding volumetry, and would make the building disappear as just any other element of the urban complex, in addition to reinforcing the logic of extensive, dense and massive occupation on the region, not very generous. With the opening of the view, the volume, although smaller than the others, separates from the constructed sequence and gains visibility. Its horizontal design and continuous treatment with a single material establishes a counterpoint to the formal variety and verticality dominant in the surrounding buildings, reinforcing its uniqueness in the urban context. Its characterization at night reinforces this uniqueness, as a large lighted lantern set against the multiplicity of windows of the neighboring apartments and offices, when viewed from Andradas Avenue.
Lightning, climate and environmental comfort
The proposed architectural solutions actively consider issues related to climate and environmental quality control in the internal spaces based on the following actions:
- The correct implantation of the building in relation to the sun, facing south and north, defining the internal void as an element of heat transmission attenuation on the north facade and distributing the vast majority of workspaces in the south side.
- The partial shading of the west facade through the flaps resulting from the extension of larger facades
- The use of natural lighting and ventilation, granting generously ventilated facades to all living spaces. The adjustable shutters associated with the marble louvers on the north and south facades contribute to this, enabling the draft of hot air while also generating the possibility of cross ventilation in workspaces.
- The use of a large internal void as an element of environmental control by allowing the exhaustion of hot air due to the pressure difference between the shaded areas on the lower floors and on the higher areas. This exhaustion is reinforced by its association with an extensive opening in the roof slab, over the top floor’s circulation, where an opening rises in the molds of a chimney to induce the draft of warmer air through the Venturi effect.
In addition to these measures, the search for solutions capable of increasing the building’s energy efficiency also generated the following complementary actions:
- The reduction in the use of air conditioning by qualifying the internal spaces in relation to the climate, as already pointed out;
- The reduction in the demand for the use of elevators, due to the clear sectorization that brings together spaces whose activities are related and the location of the Convention Center, which attracts the most public, at the arrival level;
- The search for lower energy cost in construction, avoiding the use of unnecessary coatings and proposing a constructive solution that makes it possible to reconcile high technology with the use of traditional labor, experienced in dealing with concrete and in the application of window frames and marble, recurrent materials used in the local civil construction industry.
Functional articulations and accessibility
An important aspect that guided the elaboration of this proposal is the need for clarity in circulations, proximity between related work areas, equitable distribution of spaces between areas of the same activity, and the clear differentiation between public, private and service spaces. Another fundamental premise is the maximum use of the constructive potential of the land, potentializing all the incentives offered by the legislation in order to make the maximum constructed area available to the Council.
Thus, a generous welcoming space defined by the high ceilings of the transition veranda and the hall is created on the ground floor, where the vertical circulation core is placed along the Council’s access control. This hall also grants access to the Convention Center foyer and to the restaurant, on the mezzanine floor, which also counts with an external ramp access from the street, allowing it to operate independently and at different times, if applicable.
Still on the ground floor, the auditoriums allows shared or independent use of the two rooms, and the meeting rooms can also be shared, due to the movable acoustic partitions, which makes it possible to fully integrate the rooms into the foyer in order to configure a large hall, enabling larger events.
At the pilotis with generous ceiling height, the cafeteria articulates with the council due to its location under its wide void, and with the Convention Center due to its position as a mezzanine, panoramic to the foyer, organizing itself in order to free up the extensive hall. for collective use. To this end, the service spaces are concentrated laterally, and the entire space for tables and the noble hall for the board members’ dinners opens onto the landscape of the Arrudas valley. In addition to these spaces, a front porch faces the garden and allows direct access to the service areas.
In the cafeteria, the enclosed staircase fully complies with the requirements of fire prevention and fire fighting standards, allowing escape in case of emergency through the internal activation of the door by an anti-panic bar, in order not to compromise security and access control to the Council areas. The location of the cafeteria on the stilts, an area that cannot be counted in the net built area, takes advantage of the legislation’s incentives for the configuration of a floor for common use, and allows for the allocation of a larger area to the Council’s activities, ensuring a longer useful life for the building for accommodate in the projected physical space the most diverse transformations and expansions that the institution may present over time.
The council’s public activities are distributed on the first two floors, with registration and documentation activities predominantly located on the first floor and legal activities on the second floor. On the third, activities restricted to the external public linked to the presidency and administration activities take place. On the top floor, the plenary council activities, chambers, regional delegates, councilors. All workspaces, with the exception of those that require greater isolation and control, were delimited with translucent partitions in alveolar polycarbonate, in order to expand the internal luminosity generated by the extensive marble facades, associating greater visual integration of the floors with the necessary privacy of work areas. Facing predominantly south, the rooms always have windows strategically placed to allow viewing the external space, the city landscape and the large front garden, reinforcing the ambience and quality of these spaces. On these floors, the work areas have a lowered ceiling in order to allow flexible installation distributions, located in a visitable gutter placed at the end of the recess, next to the circulations. With this, eventual modifications in the arrangement of each floor can happen with greater simplicity and without major disruptions to everyday life.
This solution reduces costs and also differentiates the ambiance of the circulations from the halls, which have a higher ceiling height and reinforced public character and openness towards the large central void, articulating the set.
In the basement, two garage levels were implemented with low ceilings in order to avoid interferences built below the water level. The first one houses, in addition to parking, part of the auditoriums and their technical and support areas. The second’s entire area is occupied by parking. The 105 parking spaces initially foreseen can be rearranged, expanding the capacity of the parking lots to up to 156 vehicles, such arrangement is shown in the plans. In the parking lots, halls with controlled access allow the use of elevators, and wide stairs lead users directly to the entrance hall, allowing direct articulation with the Convention Center and restaurant without weakening control and without compromising the functioning of the Council. The option for two basements is justified by the slope of the terrain’s edges, which does not require the construction of retaining walls in its greatest extension given all sides have partial support, and only the portion facing Professor Otaviano de Almeida Street will require the construction of support in its entirety of the excavated height, which would allow the maximum exploitation of parking lots, bringing greater comfort, especially considering the demand generated by the Convention Center, and can even become an income generator for the institution. With the generous parking offer, the Council will be prepared for the most diverse and possible future transformations both on the institution itself and on the adjacent urban space.
The entrance and exit accesses to the parking lots were defined at Pacífico Mascarenhas Street for the following reasons:
- The street’s slope enables an almost leveled access with the second basement, avoiding the configuration of extensive ramps, which are more expensive and consume useful area;
- The entrance to the parking lot is more visible to the outside public on this street, both for those arriving from Contorno Avenue and for those coming up from Andradas Avenue, facilitating orientation;
- The option of concentrating entry and exit in the same location avoids costly duplication of control infrastructure, reducing parking operation costs.
Finally, the project sought to create a building that could materialize in the constructed space values resulting from the fundamental ideas presented here, not only as their representation, but as an effective materialization of space ordering ways and construction that didactically emphasize the institution’s austerity and credibility, its public and open function and its modernity, still linked to traditions and very well prepared for contemporary demands.
In the Preliminary Project for the New Head Office of the Regional Council of Medicine of Minas Gerais, we sought to equate all aspects not yet fully developed from the preliminary study, elaborating technical, functional and plastic solutions based on attentive correspondence to all the Judging Committee recommendations. For this, a broad restudy of the project was done, from the improvement of urban relations and their insertion in the city, from the formal and volumetric relations and their repercussions in the constructive logic, to the functional articulations and the environmental qualification of the workspaces. The need for a project that would show vigorous plastic force, strong representativeness of the institution and great permanence over time guided our work.
Urban insertion and evaluation of the institution’s public character
The project seeks to reinforce the institution’s public and open character, as well as the emphatic demarcation of the Council’s presence in the urban space through wide transition spaces demarcated by the presence of an extensive staircase that promotes the integration between the ground plan and the slope of the street. This solution defines a platform that receives the pedestrian and leads him towards the pilotis, functioning as an unique reception that guides and distributes the visitors flows towards different activities with clarity and simplicity. As a small square, it allows the configuration of an interval that marks the transition between the urban space and the building, with a minimum of obstacles. The use of a single material from the sidewalks to the interior space – portuguese stone with subtle variations according to the specific demands: used rough on the sidewalks, semi polished on the platform, polished on the internal spaces – reinforces the openness of the building.
With full openness and public use, the entrance platform grants access to the building’s main hall, with high ceilings and wide opening towards the valley and the surrounding landscape, and to the Convention Center’s foyer. In these entrances, the doors are treated as monumental elements, with full height, reinforcing the institution’s openness to the public. For the pilotis, access also converges from the underground parking lots, allowing the segregation of flows and greater control and security in the Council’s operation.
The implantation strategy adopted in the first stage was fully preserved, as it defines qualities in the urban space that differentiate the building from the landscape. The large open view provided by the building’s set back and the concealment of a large part of the built mass under the front garden avoid characterizing a base separated from a main volume, reinforcing the unity of the set. By avoiding the dichotomy between the Convention Center and the Council, the building unequivocally represents the institution it houses, ensuring the hierarchical differentiation between the parts and the protagonism of the volume which houses its core activity as the main definer of the institution’s image in the urban scene.
The valorization of the void in the main corner also contributes to individualizing the building in the urban space through the enhancement of a strong contrast with the large built masses immediately adjacent. By avoiding the logic of extensive, dense and massive occupation on the region, the building creates an interval that makes it possible to enjoy it from a distance by those walking down Pacífico Mascarenhas Street. With the opening of the view, the volume, although smaller than the others, separates from the constructed sequence and gains visibility. Its horizontal design and continuous treatment with a single material establishes a contrast with the dominant formal variety and verticality in the surrounding buildings, reinforcing its uniqueness in the urban context. Its characterization at night reinforces this uniqueness, as a large lighted lantern set against the multiplicity of windows of the neighboring apartments and offices, when viewed from Andradas Avenue.
Volumetry, plastic expression and constructive rigor: the building’s mass reduction and the issue of dematerialization
As previously pointed out, a conceptual foundation of this proposal is the search for the uniqueness of the building through its volumetric differentiation in relation to the surroundings. This differentiation is done through the reduction of the visible built masses, through a semi-underground implantation of auditoriums and parking lots, and by the dematerialization of the visible block’s volume. As recommended by the Judging Committee, we sought to deepen the technical and constructive solutions that would lead to this idea of dematerialization.
The idea of dematerialization permeates contemporary discourses about architecture. Initially, it can be identified in the modern architecture discourse, which understood the evolution of architecture as the evolution of technique. According to the moderns, the evolution of knowledge about materials and techniques would have allowed, over the centuries, the expansion of free spans and the reduction of masses, in a process of progressive reduction of matter ranging from massive mastabas and pyramids, in which mass was much larger than the internal voids, until 20th century architecture, which, with reinforced concrete and steel, reached an absolute predominance of the clearance over the matter that conforms it. In contemporary architecture, a search for reducing the expression of the masses and valuing the sealing skins as active elements of mediation between the interior and the exterior allows an effective control of the relationship between the building and the external space, both in terms of environmental quality sun, light, winds, rains as in the possibilities of visual opening and integration with the outside.
In this sense, we sought to improve the structural solutions, the fences and the formal logic that derives from them towards a greater complexity in the characterization of the plans that enclose the internal spaces. With this, not only are the formal issues that characterize the building for outsider appreciation it equated, but also the environmental qualification and control of the built environment are resolved.
The form dematerialization operates through the following artifices:
- the individualization and separation of the different planes that enclose the building, avoiding the formation of a large monolithic block and granting greater variety in the treatment of different orientations, more effectively considering issues related to the climate and comfort of work environments;
- the extension of facade planes in relation to the floor’s limits, eliminating the vision of edges in the volume and the perception of its built mass real dimension, reinforcing the continuity between indoors and outdoors, potentializing the fruition of interesting views while also functioning as protections and solar attenuators;
- the splitting of facade planes, sometimes in horizontal bands -north and south facades -, sometimes in the grid (east and west facades), creating an empty interval between the marble pieces, avoiding the configuration of mass at the same time it allows the visualization between interior and exterior through the parts;
- the reduction of structural element’s section, mainly of the slabs, where they meet the skin. This meeting is mediated by the metallic grid that structures all facade elements and eliminates the visibility of such structural element’s tops. At the same time it solves the structural issue in a technical, economic and logical way, this solution, dialectically, denies the existence of the structure in order to grant an apparent absence of matter, giving the impression of lightness.
Lighting, climate and environmental comfort
Regarding the necessary climate response, this stage intensified the differences between strategies adopted for each facade. In addition to the correct placement of the building in relation to the sun, the adoption of the internal void as an element of heat transmission attenuation on the north facade and the location of the vast majority of workspaces in the south quadrant, the infill pans adopted for each orientation was chosen seeking the best conditions for each case, in relation to its capacity of attenuating direct sunlight, heat transmission and ventilation.
For the south facade, the system proposed in the preliminary study was maintained in its entirety. It suggests the use of natural ventilation and lighting, surrounding all spaces of permanence with generously ventilated facades, with the use of adjustable shutters associated with the marble louvers. As it is under shade for most of the year, this facade has little direct sunlight on the marble, which minimizes the heat transmission to the interior. Even during summer, the vertical sun incidences during critical hours are attenuated by juxtaposition of the inclined elements. At the observer’s level, strips of laminated glass with a printed film grant a view of the lower garden and its surroundings, while the film reduces the incidence of sunlight and gives the glass a whitish appearance, bringing it closer to marble.
On the east and west facades, due to high incidence of sunlight during early hours of the morning and afternoon, respectively, the marble element started to be associated with an internal skin of tempered glass, mounted on the same metallic profiles that structure the set of facades. The marble slabs then become solar attenuators, filtering light and setting the mood for the interior spaces while avoiding direct sunlight on the glass, reducing the “greenhouse effect”. As they are arranged slightly apart from each other and in relation to the internal glass skin, they favor permanent ventilation, creating a ventilated interval that dissipates the heat resulting from the radiation generated by direct incidence of sunlight on the marble. In addition to that, due to its polished finish and its white color, marble has a high degree of reflection, which also significantly reduces heating and the resulting radiation.
This same logic appears in the parts of the north facade that delimit spaces of permanence, however with a different arrangement of the marble plans. In these sections, the halet configuration presents a greater angle than on the south facade, expanding the view of the surroundings and functioning as a brise-soleil. In the east and west facades, the configuration of a double skin allows greater control of the internal environment while preserving the characterization of light filtered through the marble, both for those who use the workspaces and for those who observe the building from afar.
Still on the north facade, in the central section that corresponds to the internal void, the sealing is exclusively done in marble, whose slabs are twice the height of the side strips in order to subtly demarcate this important differentiation in the internal space’s formal articulation. In this stretch, the absence of glass favors permanent ventilation due to the marble’s configuration as a brise-soleil, and its greater closure does not allow the viewing of the landscape, directing the user’s vision to the enjoyment of the internal space and the vegetation that takes place there.
With these different strategies, the best atmosphere for each workspace is ensured, reinforced by the use of the large internal void as an element of environmental control by allowing the exhaustion of hot air due to the pressure difference between the shaded areas of the lower floors and the higher areas. This exhaustion is reinforced by its association with an extensive opening in the roof slab, over the last floor circulation, where a linear zenith rises as a chimney, whose design was improved so as to, in addition to inducing the draft of warmer air through the Venturi effect, also allows the incidence of reflected light – due to its inclination towards south in the circulation of the Presidency and the Plenary Sessions’s floor.
In addition to these measures, the solutions related to the energy efficiency of the building were maintained:
- the reduction in the use of AC, by qualifying the internal spaces in relation to the climate, as mentioned; the use of artificial air conditioning was planned only in the noblest spaces on the Presidency and Plenary floor and in auditoriums and convention rooms, due to their necessary closure and because they foresee high concentration of public. For the Presidency, Plenary and Convention Rooms, the use of a mini/multi split system is foreseen, with K7 devices, which allows independent use in each room, according to demand, and features individualized installation, even enabling the implementation of the system through stages. The condensers would be installed on the roof of the building, for the Presidency’s equipment, and in the back garden on the ground floor, for the convention rooms’. A self contained system with remote air condenser is foreseen for each auditorium. The equipment is located in the lateral engine room, with a covered section for the equipment and, above these, the outdoor condensers. Insufflation is done through ducts in the ceiling void, and its return through a gap under the audience. In the other spaces, natural ventilation was privileged, and, with the heat transmission reduction in internal spaces by the use of double infill wall in most critical quadrants, its demand can be controlled by the simple mechanism of a guillotine opening, enabling tempered glass closing, reducing costs and resulting in a more interesting plastic solution due to the absence of frames. The guillotine solution also equates to water tightness as it allows the configuration of side guides and horizontal trespasses between the panes, eliminating problems with rain.
- the reduction in the demand for the use of elevators, due to the clear sectorization that brings together spaces whose activities are related and the location of the Convention Center at entrance level, given it attracts the most public;
- the search for a lower energy cost in construction, to avoid the use of unnecessary coatings and to propose a constructive solution that allows to reconcile high technology with the use of traditional labor, experienced in dealing with concrete and with the application of glass and marble – recurrently used materials in the local civil construction industry.
Functional articulations and accessibility
The functional articulations, in regards to the large areas – Council, Convention Center, Cafeteria and Parking lots – did not change in relation to the preliminary study. However, in relation to the necessary proximities and connections between the parts of each area, significant changes were proposed.
In the Council, different activities were ordered along the floors based on their relationship with the public and on the hierarchy they present inside the Institution. Thus, the public service areas are located on the first two floors, while the Council’s private areas occupy the last two floors. In addition, the most hierarchically important activities are concentrated on the top floor, which has better views of the immediate surroundings and the central void due to its height,: Presidency, Plenary and Board Members. Previously arranged through separate floors, their concentration on the same floor improves the relationships and proximity between these spaces, as requested in the architectural program and recommended by the Judging Committee.
In addition to benefiting from better views and the special ambience conferred by the linear zenith placed over the circulation, these spaces receive special treatment in regards to their sealing. Due to the need for greater acoustic insulation and because its configuration requires less mobility and flexibility, the use of marble partitions -associated with glass in the Plenary Sessions and in the President’s room is proposed. This solution reinforces the characterization of internal environments in these spaces by exploiting the translucent aspect of the marble, at the same time it enables an interior treatment that is both more permanent and more noble, consistent with the importance of the activities it houses. This differentiation also appears in the element that brings together the support rooms and restrooms, which presents a freer form in order to meet programmatic demands, make the Plenary’s restrooms use more flexible, configure reserved and private access for the president to enter the Plenary while still preserving the impression of continuity between interior space and the marble facade.
All workspaces, with the exception of those that require greater isolation and control, were delimited with translucent partitions in alveolar polycarbonate, in order to expand the internal luminosity generated by the extensive marble facades to the entire set, associating greater visual integration between floors with the necessary privacy in work areas. On these floors, the work areas present a lowered ceiling in order to allow flexible installation distribution, located in a visitable gutter, next to the circulations. With this solution, eventual modifications in the arrangement of each floor can happen with greater simplicity and without major disruptions to everyday life. It also reduces costs and differentiates the ambience of the circulations from the halls, which have a higher ceiling height and have reinforced their public character and open to the large central void, articulating the set.
At the cafeteria, accesses were fully reviewed, as recommended by the Judging Committee. The connection between the Council and the cafeteria continues through the core of elevators that access a hall whose access can be controlled by the use of magnetic identification cards by employees. The possibility of direct access from the hall towards a room reserved for Council dinners was created, which makes it possible to use it simultaneously at any event at the Convention Center. Access for users of the Convention Center was revised: the external ramp was eliminated, and the staircase located in the hall was transferred to inside the foyer while gaining more generous dimensions, enabling quick access to the cafeteria and satisfactorily serving the large quantity of people that the auditorium and event rooms will produce.
Also at the cafeteria, a ramp was created for service access and loading/unloading, hidden by a marble plan that delimits the front garden and defines a small service patio connected to the restaurant’s support, essential for its proper functioning. This ramp is foreseen to be used as an escape route during an emergency, making it possible to escape through the enclosed stairs on this floor. The marble plan grants continuity to the internal volume, which houses the cafeteria services, and hides the ventilation opening of the auditorium’s air conditioning equipment, reducing the impact the noise causes in the square area. In this area, the originally proposed veranda was extended through a large deck that extends over the garden in order to improve the relation of use and enjoyment of this space by those who circulate through the cafeteria. On the ground floor, the entrance articulations were also reviewed, seeking to ensure greater independence between the accesses towards the Council and the Convention Center, as recommended by the Judging Committee. For this, the reception space requested by the program was defined by the high ceilings of said transition veranda.
Also on ground floor, the location of restrooms at the back of the foyer was revised, improving the possibility of integrating the meeting rooms with the foyer and concentrating the wet areas in the same projection as the tower and the cafeteria, which generates greater savings and constructive rationality. A zenith opening illuminates the area at the back of the foyer and the cafeteria service spaces, improving their ambience as requested by the Judging Committee.
In the underground, two garage levels were implemented with low ceilings in order to avoid interferences built below the water level. The first one houses, in addition to parking, part of the auditoriums and their technical and support areas. The second’s entire area is occupied by parking. The parking area on the second underground level was reduced in order to limit the maximum number of parking spaces allowed by law and to reduce the constructed area of the building. Alternatively, the second basement level can be extended up to the edge of the land, enabling a future expansion of parking lots through the rearrangement of parking spaces. In the parking lots, halls with controlled access enable the use of elevators, and wide stairs lead users directly to reception level, allowing direct articulation with the Convention Center without weakening control and without compromising the Council’s operation. The option for two basements is justified by the slope of the plot’s edges, which does not require the construction of retaining walls in its greatest extension given all sides have partial support, and only the portion facing Professor Otaviano de Almeida Street will require the construction of support in its entirety of the excavated height, which would allow the maximum exploitation of parking lots, bringing greater comfort, especially considering the demand generated by the Convention Center, and can even become an income generator for the institution. With the generous parking offer, the Council will be prepared for the most diverse and possible future transformations both on the institution itself and on the adjacent urban space.
For the landscaping, ornamental species of varying sizes were chosen – grasses, small bushes arranged in masses, defining strips that reinforce the linear ordering of the building. With varying widths, the landscaping strips will define subtle chromatic variations of green, gray and white, in order to establish a strong relationship with the proposed architecture. For this, the following species were chosen:
Blue Fescue – Festuca glauca an ornamental herbaceous species with bright silver-blue foliage (10 to 20 cm in height), used on the most extensive side of the entrance transition square.
Caribbean Agave – Agave angustifolia forms a protective massif in the first strip of vegetation, forming a protective barrier that prevents access to the garden from the street. Due to its long leaves, with small thorns and a sharp tip, it is practically impassable.
Easter Lilly – Lilium longiflorum cultivated in groups, it blooms with a very characteristic aroma. Due to its medium height (between 40 and 120 cm), it can be applied alternately, generating variety in height, shape and texture of the massifs.
Cineraria – Senecio douglasii herbaceous species with white branches and foliage, forms quite homogeneous massifs, smaller (from 40 to 70 cm), defining an average height between the blueish grass and the easter lily.
Structure and construction system: economy, rigor, permanence and durability of the building
The constructive system proposed improves the solutions presented in the preliminary study. For its definition, in the first stage, and for its development, in the preliminary project, the following premises were fundamental:
- the definition of a structural approach that differentiates the regular tower element, with a modular structure, from the exceptional element, the auditorium, which requires large spans. This differentiation allows the adoption of a modular system with reinforced concrete pillars of circular section and ribbed slabs in the tower, and the adoption of a mixed system, with a grating in electro welded 350×35 “I” metallic profiles – attached to the ribbed slab with the same dimensions as conventional slabs. The option for the mixed structure allows the sub modulation of the auditorium’s large span through the metallic element that, working integrated to the slab, reduces the height of the set and generates great savings due to its significant reduction in material consumption. Its inclination, in addition to corresponding with the variation of the audience in the auditorium, allows greater visibility of the green areas of the surrounding urban space and favors the garden’s drainage, reducing the overload on the slab;
- the search for economic solutions, with a strong modular constructive logic, equating economical spans for the structure, for the parking lots and for the modular internal divisions. For this, the modules of the main structure were adjusted in spans with spacing of 7.20m and 9.60m, both multiples of 1.20m – modular dimension for ordering the secondary structure of the external skin and the commercial standard of partitions. The internal skins in tempered glass also allow maximum use of glass plates (plates 2.40m wide, generating two modules of 1.20 without any material loss), and also generate greater use of the marble, whose plates are modulated in 2.40, allowing its fixation on two framings with half-module side overhangs; they also have the advantage of significantly reducing the load on the structure – the 2 cm thick marble associated with the light structure has an overload of 67 kg/m2, against 360 kg/m2 if done with common masonry.
- the option for a building system with flat slabs, as it significantly reduces the cost of formwork and assembly time. For this, two systems were tested, the first with a prestressed concrete slab and the second with a ribbed slab. The first hypothesis presents as advantage the better performance of the material which, compressed by prestressing, presents less cracking and better quality. Its disadvantage lies in the greater consumption of concrete, which, in a pre-dimensioning, would require a thickness of 26 cm of solid concrete for the defined spans, resulting in a consumption of approximately 0.26 cubic meters of concrete per square meter of slab. The second hypothesis, adopted as a standard for the project, makes use of the ribbed slab which, for the proposed column modulation, requires a thickness of 29.5cm. Although wider, the active form defined by the set of ribs reduces the consumption of concrete to approximately 0.134 cubic meters of concrete per square meter of slab, that is, half of the consumption foreseen for the previous solution. This significant reduction implies, in addition to the lower cost resulting from the lower consumption of concrete, a lower final load that the structural set must support. Thus, the solution generates savings by allowing a reduction in the dimensioning of all the structural elements, including foundations. It also allows, depending on the technical solution, the configuration of smooth slabs with a white paint finish, if lighter styrofoam molds are used, or an apparent concrete finish, as in solid slabs.
- the exploration of the potential of associating different elements, systems and materials in order to generate solutions that are at the same time more economical, agile and adequate to programmatic demands. Thus, in addition to the mixed structure covering the auditorium, the large columns that cross the internal void and support the secondary structure of the external skins are rigorously resolved with the same section as the others, and the problem of buckling that would result from their great slenderness is resolved by the use of a metal tube with circular section that encases the core in reinforced concrete. This solution, in addition to improving performance in terms of buckling, simplifies the attachment of the metallic brackets that support the marble structure, which can be welded directly to the column. This unification of different systems also appears in the basements: there, the reinforced concrete curtain walls, 20 cm thick, receive the ribbed slabs directly, significantly reducing the number of pillars and their subsequent foundations. For these, it is proposed to use continuous helix piles, with a variable diameter between 50 and 80 cm, depending on the loads, with a depth between 12 and 14 meters. This type of pile allows fast and economical drilling without conflict with the high water level, and at a lower cost than an equivalent conventional solution, such as Franki.
- the building’s need for permanence and durability, both from a pragmatic point of view – economy and reduction of maintenance and conservation costs – and from a symbolic point of view -the representation of the institution-, seeking to give the building a timeless character. In this sense, the search for a simple solution, which solves at the same time the issues of use, constructive logic, environmental comfort and the plastic characterization of the building, using few materials, of great durability and permanence, such as concrete, glass and marble, allows the building to remain in the urban setting with the necessary quality to represent the Regional Council of Medicine over time, without losing its dignity and character of invention over the years.