Edificio Manantiales - Izquierdo Lehmann Arquitectos

Edificio Manantiales

Architects: Luis Izquierdo W., Antonia Lehmann S.B, Raimundo Lira V., José Domingo Peñafiel E.

Structural engineering: Luis Soler P. y Asociados

Main contractor: Constructora Sigro S.A.

Location: Isidora Goyenechea 3120, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile

Plot area: 1.765,30m2

Built area: 9.535,80m2 + 7.007,00m2 subterráneos

Project: 1997-1998

Construction: 1998-1999

The project is located in an area of Santiago developed some fifty years ago as a garden-neighborhood and which during the last decade has undergone a dramatic densification process as a result of the construction of big buildings ranging between 7 and 20 stories high. At present, the price of land in this area, about US$ 2,800.00 per square meter, ranks amongst the highest in Santiago.

This project was devised as a real estate business. Its best profitability laid in selling the maximum possible office space, commercial premises at street level and underground parking lots, while building the minimum common areas necessary for adequately servicing the saleable areas.

In order to avoid adding to the volumetric and formal disparity generated by the explosive -yet ill-regulated- growth which characterises the neighbourhood where our building was going to be set, we came up with a simple and clean volume. It consists in a 17 stories tower shaped as a regular parallelepiped, falling directly to the ground in the corner open to the square facing it. The tower is embraced by a closed and lower volume 10 stories high, which isolates it from the other buildings of the block. This volume made room for a 9,490 m2 gross built area, a figure which is slightly smaller compared to the site´s theoretical capacity but in agreement with the urban benefit sought by the architects. The total square meters resulted from having only two types of plans, of 249 m2 and 678 m2 each, whose orthogonal silhouette and dimensions enable an optimum inside distribution of the double and triple bay offices.


The vertical circulation core was placed in the large floors interior bay, which coincides with the smaller floors eastern bay in the recessed upper volume, leaving open the upper section of the service stairs. The set of elevators opening directly into the offices are located behind this scissor-like stairs. The central core compact resolution favours the sale of entire floors and makes possible to diminish the incidence of communal areas on the price of the building´s saleable surfaces.

The office floors are supplied with electricity and air conditioning from their perimeter and from terminals located in the central core, so as to do without false ceilings, with the consequently gain of interior height and number of stories. The post-tensed concrete slabs cover great spans without the aid of beams, and are supported by their perimeter, the central core´s walls and by just four columns in the large floors and one in the small ones, which results in large areas of highly flexible occupation and free of structural elements. The existence of sills enables the placing of office furniture while complying with the regulation regarding fire hazards. The said sills or ledges bear the air conditioning and electricity horizontal ducts.

The tower´s facades show a superposition of stories with continuous windows so as to allow a maximum opening to light and to distant views. The sills consist in inverted beams supported by the minimum possible number of cylindrical columns, according to the light their section permits to cover and the variable load distribution in the height of the building. The specified high-performance glass panes are comfortably suited for the thermic control of the building, rendering sun blinds, a common feature in the design of western-oriented facades, unnecessary. Thus, the interest of the architectural volume lays in the resolution and expressiveness of the structure, which has been left exposed by placing it on the outside of the closing skin. We have privileged an architecture with body, thickness and shadows.

The underground construction, destined to car parking, is of similar magnitude to the one built over ground level. The total surface covered by this four and a half underground stories amounts to 7,007 m2; it includes water tanks, a large storeroom, service rooms and 252 parking spaces of approximately 27 m2 per car. This capacity was achieved thanks to the construction of four and a half out-of-step stories, each half of which measuring 16 meters width in order to enable the existence of central streets flanked by parking spaces on both sides, communicated by the circulation ramp. The placement of the building´s structural columns, same that support the underground floors´ concrete slabs, had to stick to the 2.5 meters parking lots intervals.

The project´s most difficult challenge consisted in the lack of coincidence between the office tower plans and the underground parking plans. Both parts of the building are dimensioned according to their own laws and are forced to coincide only in terms of the elevator boxes´ location.
Therefore, it was decided that both orders would have their meeting point in the first and second stories –where the main and secondary accesses, as well as the stores facing the street, are located- in a gross built area that uses up 75% of the allowed site occupancy rate.

The building´s main characteristic is its structural asymmetry. It stems from the rigidity of the enveloping volume´s pierced walls versus the elasticity of the tower´s facades formed by a succession of beams supported by columns, and its is reflected on the spacing out between the stories´ rigidity and gravity centres. However, bearing in mind that such asymmetry would produce rotation and oscillation in the higher stories, they were neutralised by means of a grid of diagonals and columns capable of compensating the rigidity of the building.. Thus, the design of the tower´s facades is a way of compensating the rigidities of an asymmetric volume, something that was achieved through an interactive process with the structural calculus tending to even the loads of the cylindrical columns-equal in section and resistance- so as to avoid leaving unnecessary structural elements. That is why the facades show the structural diagram of static and dynamic loads, reflecting our seismic ground´s unstable condition.

The building´s structure is of reinforced concrete, left exposed in beams and columns while, in general, walls were lined with grey granite.

An office building does not require an inner spatial relation capable of acknowledging the totality of the built-up body. It should rather seek the independence of each floor with regard to the others, a condition which in this kind of project constitutes a considerable spacial constrain. This kind of building is rather the repeated uprising of the ground level in height, like a vertical plot. Thus, it is the structural effort of superposing successive levels -the upright construction-, what constitutes the architectural topic of this project.

When conceiving this work, once again we sought to bridge the gap "from useful, through truth, to beauty" -to quote Goethe´s aphorism-, so that attending the real circumstances from where it arises rather than to stereotyped icons, it could contribute to shape our own identity.

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