Silletas Park

Silletas Park

Architect
+UdeB arquitectos
Location
SANTA ELENA, MEDELLIN, Colombia
Project Year
2011
Category
Parks/Gardens
Juan Ricardo Ramírez P. and Álvaro Criollo.

Silletas Park

+UdeB arquitectos as Architects

For the public in general, large – scale, or macro, parks evoke visceral images of larges of open green space, full of forests, wetlands, lakes, meadows, streams, bridges, paths and promenades on a scale that allows the dramatic exposition to the climate, geology, dense vegetation and open horizons. While extensive macro – parks are landscapes that are integrated into metropolitan areas, providing pleasant, diverse and complex spaces, it is not necessary that these parks have to simulate rural pastoral scenes, nor register with the formality of fine arts with their axes and perspectives. These large experimental reserves should be open – air theaters of nature, scenarios for the performance of natural time, the social use and the event. And they must provide a rich array of social interactions and activities that solidify the notion of belonging, of community or citizenship. All of this is revealed in a wandering body, in sequences alternating between spaces of isolation and lookouts of getaways and open perspectives, an open framework of social spaces, some small and intimate, some large, monumental and collective. The macro – parks, while providing a pleasant use of the open space and serve as cultural experiments, should present other challenges. Operating and maintenance costs require contingency strategies for moments of weak finances, as they are the first to suffer budget cuts; moreover, because they have to be prepared for a permanent adaptation or reinvention.


Although the rationale and fundamental approach to the creation of these parks is a pleasant physical and cultural experience, the ecological, operational and programming aspects are less obvious and less understood. However, today these issues have become more important. After all, macro – parks are not simple natural areas but are planned, constructed, cultivated and designed and are, therefore, subject to geometric, material and organizational inventions. Today, one of the big questions in the design of macro – parks is the proportion in which the pre – established forms interact with open processes in relation to the meaning and content. The macro – parks will always exceed singular narratives, will always surpass the desire of authorship of designers and will evolve around unpredictable aspects. They are complex, dynamic systems and, as such, designers can aspire to establish a highly specified schematic physical basis in which the more open processes and formations can take root. The diversity of growth and significant interactivity that can be supported through time depends on the understanding of this foundation basis, or layer net. The trick is to design a framework, a matrix and a catalogue that will allow the park structures to absorb future programmatic and environmental requirements under an identity that enables great flexibility.


The area of the COMFAMA Nucleus macro – park is affected by two factors of great sensitivity: a condition of rather - conservative ecological protection and a pre – existence of archaeological sites not yet surveyed and studied. These conditions require the active, definite participation of several groups of specialists that will inevitably involve processes of negotiation and conceptual consensus. These pre – existing conditions demand a highly flexible project strategy that allows several options of general accommodation or the master plan and the implementation of specific sites. It was decided to opt for a design strategy that ruled out a rigorous physical prefiguring because it would hamper the intervention of the different specialists during the design, construction and implementation process. It needed to be a strategy that would save the ecological and archaeological findings in each specific location. For this reason a system of “chess pieces” was created to understand the territory as a large game board and allow the execution of a series of movements or strategic moves as the variables appeared. These pieces should avoid any distortion of the nature of the park caused by the intervention of the different professionals or administrative teams.


This open system of precise parts gives the project a kind of immunization against a formalist subjectivity and simultaneously enables multiple configurations with a degree of arbitrariness, induced by the pre – existing conditions. The conditions of the context interact actively with the architectural foreshadowing. The game is par excellence the best mechanism for agreement, in which the differences are channeled by the precise rules, instructions and approaches. In the case of the park, the agreements are framed within three main emphases:


1 - Anthropology: to highlight the memory and respect for historical relics, considering the proximity to indigenous cemeteries, mining, and the tradition of growing flowers;


2 - Technology: to promote environmental education and good use of natural resources, developing technological models for universal application as a contribution to sustainable architecture and implementing research and development and photosynthetic green roofs; and


3 - Artistic: To run a large – scale work of Land Art, where the entire territory is seen as a large canvas or performance space, having as reference sublime searches such as the Nazca lines in Peru, finding a new landscape to be appreciated from the air: Metrocable, aviation and natural lookouts within a more cosmogonic view.


To populate the park, three key tokens or pieces were defined:


THE SILLETA which provides the cover for the cultivation of flowers and continues the tradition of the area with a contemporary perspective, based on a participatory design that allows the coming together of artists from around the world and that leads to the participation of younger generations through digital photography and the development of plastics research through software programs. These structures are responsible for safeguarding the basic – service programs such as: information, group training, sanitation, nutrition and hydration stations, first aid, etc. The container will always remain the same and only the internal architecture will present variations. This piece will have alternating functions, such as fireflies in the night that guide walkers along the main paths. This condition of large – format lamp will produce an effect of weightlessness on the cultivated surface. The silletas are arranged at an approximate distance of 150 meters between each and will be placed on the sides of main roads. From these routes the walkers will be able to appreciate the cultivated surfaces, since the silletas are at lower elevations. The program will be evident only from the opposite side of the road, from which the secondary paths are approached. Because of its location it will have a function of temporary stations and shelters. Appreciated from lower angles, the structures take on an aspect of comets ready to initiate a takeoff. This apparent lightness gives them a reading of temporality or mobility proper to furniture.


THE CENTIPEDE Also has covers but in this case the green of extensive crops used to propagate species that are generally classified as weeds or common pastures. This piece actually consists of the concatenation of eight to ten modules (each with four “legs” or supports to the field), enabling the geometric accommodation of the contours of the land. Conceptually this is an inhabited elevation Each 100 – square – module may be internally conditioned to the specific needs, in order to allow permanent adjustments. These centipedes can be foreshadowed in multiple versions through the combination of 13 cover geometries. This is an open – structure configuration, which aims to reduce 100% of the earth movements and avoid obstructing runoffs and the flows of living organisms with its palafitte support. The centipede will house the administration and training programs, business meetings, directed recreation and shelter for archaeological specialists. The centipedes will be implemented mid-slope at intermediate elevations, allowing the appreciation of the green roofs from the paths above and enjoy a distant vision of the beautiful scenery from its large lookouts.


LA GUACA Aims to balance itself in one aspect of culture that is full of mystery and fantastic data, speculating about the tradition of burial, a practice of those who were the primitive inhabitants of this Arví territory. These underground structures rest on the more pronounced peaks and give continuity to the indigenous tradition of using the tutelary hills as observatories and essential references. Because these large enclosures are underground they do not negatively impact the natural context of the park. These artificial mounds will house cultural programs such as theatres and recreational and interactive spaces based on complex technical devices to be offered as surprising “findings.” It will also serve on the outside as platforms to implement astronomic activities. Its interior is rich in the sections that provide various scales in the different enclosures and a series of skylights that ensure spatial effects. For the distribution of these three pieces or chess pieces on the entire surface of the park, a master plan was designed that will guide the early stages but has a condition of flexibility. The plan is governed by a set of instructions to ensure the relevance of the concept of location or implementation of each of the structures but that never requires a closed configuration. The sum of these parts is another factor that time will determine; however, what is stipulated as the unchangeable principle is the dissemination of the buildings throughout the territory to avoid concentrations that put the defined ecological and archaeological premises at risk. Each building creates a radius of activity; when the radius of a building becomes invisible, it is because the activity of the neighboring building has begun. It is a system similar to transmission towers, a system that follows the lines of communication to the park in all its operational layers.


1. SILLETA The Silletas accompany the footpath leading into the park. The sloping roof garden of the Silleta buildings receives visitors and indicates where the spaces for basic services are located. The geometry of the building begins with a square, 12 meters on each side, which is inclined on one end; access is made by descending two ramps on the sides that facilitate entry by those with reduced mobility. Its lightweight metallic structure allows it to contain an internal crystallized area that ensures natural lighting in both the roof garden as well as the interior. The color appears to shade the spaces, allowing the user to identify the type of Silleta. To do this, seven internal distributions were established, according to the same number of specific uses: restrooms, infirmary, classrooms, cafeteria, information booth, communication rooms and tour guide center.


2. CIEMPIES The Centipede is lightly supported on the terrain. Four concrete columns per module allow the building to be suspended over the topography. The modules are coupled according to different angles and lead these horizontal constructions to follow the movement of the contour lines or to skip some landforms. Each Centipede module extends its activity on terraces and wooden balconies, which are platforms in the forest to discover the landscape. The green roof gives the sensation that the building is immersed in the environment.


3. GUACA The Guacas spatiality emerge as the ground is dug. The Guacas are supported by concrete hexagonal structured that operate as dynamic central elements. Each reveals three access ramps that are seen as linear cracks in the ground, establishing a direct and dramatic connection with the landscape. The Guacas house cultural programming related to art: the exhibition of archaeological objects or events with similar themes to be carried out in auditoriums. Their height, six meters free at the highest point, allow somewhat complex activities or events that can find support in the perimeter areas of the building, including those with specific uses: restrooms, special meeting rooms, dressing rooms and technical rooms.


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Project Credits
Jodrell Bank observatory
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Jodrell Bank observatory

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