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Industrial (Re) Evolution. Sima Steel Foundry Conversion in Santiago.

Part 2 Project 2009
Daniel Iraguen-Contreras
Central University, Santiago Santiago Chile
Santiago’s Establishment, represented by the economic elites, has determined an overrated urban development towards an exclusivist suburbia in the north-east, causing the city centre and other poles of growth to be underrated. Because of this, the property development market has grown unhindered across forgotten areas, by densifying them as much as possible in order to obtain maximum profits. This has caused these neighbourhoods to become even more undervalued.

In first world cities, the existence of diverse social groups with economic power besides “the Establishment”, including groups of creative young people, bohemians and hipsters, has caused the urban dynamics of gentrification, rediscovery and regeneration of different neighbourhoods, creating an “alternative city” that is being developed in parallel to the “city of the Establishment”.

We can see an incipient answer to these tendencies in Santiago, in the old and forgotten industrial outskirts north-east of the borough, which recognizes and promotes its values and heritage: a music/events venue, the studio of a popular fashion photographer and an elegant events centre, all temporary meeting places of the “alternative city”.

This project follows this tendency but is even more ambitious, because it aims towards a more permanent and noticeable occupation, proposing mixed uses for bohemian living (space for art, music and exhibitions), but also a resident community (loft style units for studios and/or for living), intervening the physical space and promoting it as the new hub of the “alternative city”.

The remnants of a listed industrial complex are considered the starting point for the project, as it is a place charged with atmosphere, character and historical importance, investigated rigorously and well understood. The programmatic and architectural proposal does not expect to preserve and exhibit the heritage as if it were a museum of its own past, but looks forward to building a new reality where the old and the new can enter into a dialogue comprehensively.

Daniel Iraguen-Contreras

The submitted project, created in a rigorous and professional manner, is developed in the remnants of an old steel foundry, located in an early 20th century industrial quarter of Santiago, Chile.

This project is an outstanding demonstration of a methodological application over existing remnants, where the different evolving phases of the industry and its buildings, which developed throughout 70 years of history, were reconstructed hypothetically. The production processes, the steel melting systems, and the buildings that evolved along with the industrial containers were understood by the use of this methodology of historical reconstruction.

Afterwards, a critical assessment that helped determine the values of the site to be preserved and the superfluous elements that could be dismissed was developed. Thus, a starting point was set, establishing what was worth keeping together with the subsequent architectural actions.

The dialogue between the old and the new, as well as the appreciation of the site, its assertive conversion, the complexity of the task and the proposed architectural form meant this project achieved the highest of marks, and resulted in the awarding of a professional degree in architecture.


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