This Painting Studio in Coquimbo Region, Chile is an example of modern architecture in the service of neighboring art. Architects Felipe Assadiand Francisca Pulido were challenged to develop an oasis of creativity well integrated in its surroundings. The new building can be visually perceived in a variety of ways: “The painter’s studio has been erected to one side of a house in Bahía Azul. A small space, it appears to be a prolongation of the terrain when seen from the entrance, but from the slope it stands out as a piece embedded in the hillside”, explained the architects.
The space, ultimately conceived as the extension of its own window frame is said to “mediate between the sea and an interior garden located at the entrance. Reached by a narrow staircase, excavated out of the rock, it leaves the user in complete isolation. It is a sort of retreat from the surrounding constructions, basically just a wall with indirect sunlight entering from above to witness the process of painting.” Extensive use of wood for the ceilings and floors leads to a warm and friendly working environment, while glass doors allow inspiration to flow freely from the surrounding natural elements. [Photography: Fernando Alda]
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
An example of a huge success is Heneghan Peng Architects’ Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Using the large difference in level across the site, the architects created two folds in the landscape. Bold, but not conflicting with the rather bleak natural environment, these folds draw all the man-made areas together and create one fitting man-made break in the natural landscape. In the words of the architects themselves, There is no longer a building and a landscape, but building becomes landscape and the landscape itself remains spectacular and iconic