Biblioteca Pública de Villanueva

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Biblioteca Pública de Villanueva
VILLANUEVA PUBLIC LIBRARY Text entry for the WORLD ARCHITECTURE FESTIVAL in BCN If sustainable buildings con be understood as the resourceful result from the use of local materials, local workforce, economical restrictions, climatic particularities and a projected low maintenance, the Public Library for the tropical city of Villanueva in Colombia can be understood as such. Without directly addressing these issues the project met with such realities that the solution could not be seen from the beginning. Also, and because it was the result of a national public contest won against all odds by four young architects, the ingenuity of the project's radical proposals met with the crude reality (and lots of engineers, experts, etc), resulting in the end in a built statement. Location: the project is located in a small town approx. 4 hours away from Bogotá, in a small town named Villanueva. Description: it's a building consisting of two different compact volumes, one houses the public library in the second floor and the complementary program in the first floor (theatre, kids library, administration offices, work spaces, bathrooms), and the other volume shelters a public corridor-plaza. Materials: Each of these volumes is built in separate techniques and materials, one in stone gabions (taken under permission from a nearby river) and the other one in pine wood (taken from an ecologically controlled planted forest). In the middle, five metallic white lattice boxes group the program, allowing the air to run though and also creating an open atmosphere where you can see both the wood and the stone. The final outside image renders a monumental project given its scale in the context, but a the same time a down-to-earth sort-of craftmanship result, an homage to local made-by-hand objects for the daily life , in short, a minimal tropicallized modern building built for/out the site. Even though it's too early to say anything, the experiment is showing that listening to the context and mostly, reinventing it wisely without show-off architectural forms, the project do becomes a social catalyst, and as such is being recognized mostly by its inhabitants: as an authentic cultural project, more than a library. There's no resentment when we speak of show-off forms, because the Library is very visual and was conceived like that, but as an opposite to the form we offer an spatial approach: all of the elements of the project work in that direction: the plaza shelters people from the rain and the sun but the light comes through so they can extend the inner use and propose other cultural activities parallel to the library, the gabion walls are not glued together so the air runs though (without any signs of air conditioning). Finally, in a country like Colombia, where the armed conflict affects everybody in one way or another, a project like this one doesn't scape the fact that even though Villanueva is, was would be more accurately, in the middle of a local war between armed groups where the civilians suffered the consequences, a project for renewal, for healing, where books serve as excuses to initiate a dialogue. More than housing books, language, the library offers spaces to remake them, to rewrite them, in social terms. The building process attracted attention and many former outlaw militants joined the workforce as "reinserted" civilians. This meant, from the heart of the project that we had to ease the techniques, to be even more inclusive, to reinvent what social means not only in the result but also in the process: workshops had to be improvised within the construction site, where new people kept coming in to offer their hands: quilt strategy. Final words: now, after its completition, it's impossible to detach from the amount of things we created or had to witness, we became aware through our architectural work of the seriousness of the built environment, more than we could had ever wildly imagined in our academic years, and even though its a small project, we feel as we have built more than that: a committed responsible design approach, without sacrificing quality, aesthetics, conceptual refinement or function, and what is more, daring to dream with our feet on the ground. Text by Alejandro Piñol


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  • Nick Zath
    Nick Zath commented and updated
    The building is located on Carrera five in between Calle four and five.
    about 3 years ago via
  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via