Squaring the Circle: INES Innovation Centre in Chile
Foto: Pezo von Ellrichshausen
INES asserts itself in the southeast area of the Chilean city of Concepción, on the grounds of the Universidad del Bío-Bío. The innovation centre has a square floor plan and five storeys. Its eye-catching red colour draws attention; the shade comes from the building’s pigmented exposed concrete. Like balconies, the intermediate ceilings protrude uniformly in all directions and accentuate the horizontal. Large-scale glazing closes off the building’s shell.
While the cubature of the faculty building seems sleek and simple from outside, the interior is quite extravagant. It loosens the rectilinear structure and, according to the architects, represents innovative thought. With an open, fluid spatial concept, they want to promote creativity and research. They lay particular value on a combination of shared and private areas which offer space for both collective and individual work.
The planning team comprising Mauricio Pezo and Sofía von Ellrichshausen have packed all that is required of the innovation centre in geometric shapes. Circles and circle segments characterize the individual storeys. At the centre of the building, round cut-outs in the intermediate ceilings form an atrium and create the impression that a hungry caterpillar has eaten its way through the structure. The holes diminish in size with each ascending level; they are topped off with a skylight. Airy openings are also located in the jutting parts of the floor slabs. The cut-outs provide fascinating angles of view through the entire building.
As a contrast to the communicative zones found at the heart of INES, where there is space for exhibitions and workshops, all four corners feature quadrantal, closed-off rooms. Unlike the atrium, these spaces grow with each level. Their size can be discerned on the exterior façade. They serve as private working areas, for meetings and other courses. In addition, the access core with stairs and lift is concealed in one of the outer corners.