This is a project focused on the pedagogical character of experimentation, exhibition and knowledge exchange. Laboratory spaces, networks and pipelines are exposed to the public, students and researchers, so that “living” teaching-learning and the interdisciplinary spirit of research are shared. The program and the design were consolidated from an interactive work between the AGRA team, directors and laboratory coordinators of the university. It houses 42 specialized laboratories for 6 academic engineering programs, practice and research spaces, meeting rooms, classrooms and teachers' offices on an area of 9,300 m2, on three floors and a basement. The project is located towards the center of the campus, configuring its “heart”, a large central plaza-park that orders the accesses and pre-existing spatial relationships and the proposed pedestrian and vehicular traffic axes. This space will be the articulator for future projects that the university plans to undertake, such as the library and the structures and materials laboratory. The whole set of volumes, planes and lines is in function of configuring the main facade of the building delimited by the campus pedestrian circuit or "way of life" and the stream of water that connects with the Torca wetland and finally with the Bogotá river, to the north. The design responds to five guiding principles: flexibility, expansion, enlargement, grid and green.
These principles are expressed through a calm and sober architecture, its spaces are versatile, allowing them to be adapted to future needs and uses. Its modular arrangement of successive naves articulated by means of a main “loggia” in an east-west direction and separated by patios allows, if necessary, the expansion of the existing naves to the south and expansion to the east and west with additional naves. The courtyards penetrate to the center of the built mass introducing cross ventilation and controlled lighting. The structure responds to a strict modular grid for the optimization of the components and elements of beams, columns, plates, facades and furniture. The tree-lined courtyards connect the circulation axes to each other, offering distant views, towards the eastern hills, and close to the campus. The fountain, along the north façade, articulates the collective space with the pedagogical space and also contributes to the channeling of the water due to the high water table, to the acoustic control and the withdrawal required in the laboratories.
The complex is located with its main facade to the north, framing the central plaza-park. It is composed of a large-format porticoed frame (60 meters long x 15 meters high) pierced by two wide accesses with the two bridge-ramps that connect to the wide stairways that lead to the second floor on the “loggia” or main level and central axis of circulation of the whole. The southern circulation axis, with a lower hierarchy, serves access to laboratories and research centers. On the other hand, the loggia articulates the elevators and stairs and has widening in some sectors, furnished as meeting and resting places, becoming a space to circulate, be, interact and study; where it is possible to perceive and appreciate different areas through the voids.
The orientation of the building is strict, planned according to passive systems in order to achieve thermal, light and acoustic efficiency: facades open to the north and south and closed facades to the east and west. In this way, sunlight is controlled, avoiding devices such as double facades or air conditioning systems.
The façade material is corten steel plates, which have the property that it creates a film that is impermeable to water, preventing corrosion inside the pieces. Three cubic "boxes" are configured on the south side and a "box" framed by a large rectangular eaves. These simple shapes add to the formal clarity of the whole. The management of proportions and spatial superpositions through openings, interior terraces that “balconies” over the voids, double-height spaces, etc., invites the integration of activities. The treatment of surfaces through successive transparencies, different technical systems on display, both in laboratories and in network and infrastructure systems are proposed in order to promote the character of "building that teaches".