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Grafton Architects’ UTEC University Campus in Peru wins RIBA International Prize
Peru Architecture News - Nov 24, 2016 - 18:09 17664 views
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has named The Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) designed by Grafton Architects the World's Best New Building of 2016. Setting a new global standard for architectural achievement, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ prize has been judged by a grand jury chaired by world-renowned architect, Richard Rogers.
UTEC is an inspirational new building in the Barranco district of Lima and a bold new addition to the city skyline. The Ireland-based architecture firm Grafton Architects in collaboration with local partners, Shell Arquitectos have created a new campus building for Lima’s specialist engineering university, established to give young Peruvians access to qualifications, professional opportunities and to encourage social mobility.
The RIBA jury praised Grafton Architects for creating a distinctive 'vertical campus' structure, responding to the temperate climatic conditions and referencing Peru’s terrain and heritage.
''Sitting on the border of two residential districts in Lima, in section UTEC perches tantalizingly on the edge of a ravine. Seen from across the ravine it is as bold and as pure a statement of the symbiosis between architecture and engineering as could be imagined; a piece of geology imposed on its pivotal site, mirroring the organic curve of the landscape and accommodating itself in the city. To its close neighbours, it is a series of landscaped terraces with clefts, overhangs and grottos, a modern day Machu Picchu,'' the jury added.
''UTEC has been designed to encourage its students to interact in a unique way with the building. The vertical structure provides open circulation and meeting spaces in a succession of platforms that compose the ‘frame’ of the building; teaching rooms, laboratories and offices are enclosed, inserted into and suspended from the exposed concrete structure. The frame is a device providing shade, a place of rich spatial exuberance and a platform from which to view the life of the city. The entire life of this vertical campus is on full display to the people of Lima.''
''UTEC is the culmination of years of experimentation by Grafton Architects. In this building they show the mastery of their craft, gifting Lima with a bold yet considerate contribution to the city and a visionary, world-class building.''
The structure provides shade from the zenithal sun, support for accommodation, a place of rich spatial exuberance and a place from which to view the life of the city. The architects have exploited the temperate climatic conditions. Only classrooms, offices, laboratories, lecture theatres, seminar rooms and toilets are enclosed.
These are inserted into the frame. All circulation spaces are open and as these wind their way through the structure linking the enclosed boxes they provide a multiplicity of spaces and and places where students can meet, discuss and hold events. The life of the campus is literally on display in the open air but within the structure and its terraces.
''Grafton Architects have created an innovative new model for a university campus that is highly responsive to its local environment and community. The concept of a ‘vertical campus’ defies convention, as does the mix of open and enclosed spaces, but both are key to the success of this building visually and spatially,'' said RIBA President Jane Duncan.
In plan the building is an (expanding) articulated spine based on a series 20m vertebrae with a 10m subdivision. Soaring concrete blades act as the engineering and organisational structure. Accommodation is inserted within the repetitive concrete frame. In section the structure presents a perforate wall to the North (highway) and a series of cascading landscaped terraces.
''When we looked at the wonderful range of projects throughout the world which were being considered for the RIBA International Prize, we were honoured to be in this group with such esteemed colleagues. For Grafton Architects, we found that the educational aspirations of the client together with the unique climatic conditions of Lima gave us the opportunity to 'invent' a new vertical campus for their new University of Engineering,'' commented Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, Directors of Grafton Architects.
''We would like to acknowledge the important role played by our local architects in Lima: Shell Arquitectos. We would like to thank UTEC for their belief in architecture and in us and for giving us the wonderful opportunity to work on this special project,'' they added.
UTEC is the culmination of years of spatial and formal experimentation by Grafton Architects. They have shown the extent of their mastery of their craft by forming the rich spatial composition from simple moves within an organised and repetitive system.
The ambition of the project was clear to all and the consequent collaboration with the local engineers and architects was intense and collaborative.
The circumstances of the climate, brief and the cultural environment have given free reign to the architects and their systematic approach to forming, enclosing and unravelling architectural space. The outcome is a bold and positive building that symbolises a new future for Peru and a spatial experience of truly Piranesian imagination and power.
All images © Iwan Baan
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