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April 6, 2011
by Lazar D. Kesic AIA and Fernando Villa AIA LEED AP BDC

Coliseums for the South American Games (left); España Library.

Photos by Veronica Restrepo (left) and Sergio Gomez (right)

Event: Giancarlo Mazzanti — Colombia’s Rising Star
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.17.11
Speaker: Giancarlo Mazzanti — Architect (Bogotá)
Organizers: AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education
Sponsors: Fernando Villa, AIA, LEED AP; Consulate General of Colombia in New York

Medellin has transformed some of the poorest and crime-ridden neighborhoods in Colombia into safe environments, bringing social stability and hope to its residents. The city has also become an example of how educational projects can positively impact the city and its inhabitants. In a continuation of last summer’s event, “A Tale Of Two Cities” (See “Colombia Builds Communities with Schools, Libraries,” by Umberto Dindo, AIA, e-Oculus, 07.07.10), Colombian architect Giancarlo Mazzanti shared his design philosophy and projects.

Mazzanti presented projects aimed at promoting social well-being and a more sustainable society through architecture, organized around four themes: landscapes; program; growth and patterns; and modules and adaptive systems.

Landscapes connect urban geographies with topographies. By folding and tearing the existing terrain, architecture and landscape develop simultaneously, Mazzanti said, creating relationships between the figure and the field. The España Library in Medellin attempts to re-imagine architecture as a texture and the local geography as a new hierarchy.

Patterns are abstract organizational systems that allow one to develop new building strategies. Whether it is based on repetitive or irregular elements, Mazzanti finds order in direction and growth. With the design of the coliseums for the South American Games, for example, he explored the relationship between the interior and the exterior, the mass and void, as a unified object. The exterior public space and the coliseums have a spatial relationship that is divided by a thin skin of perforated metal, which allows for views and natural ventilation. The four coliseums function both individually and as a whole complex.

To illustrate the concept of program, Mazzanti presented the El Porvenir kindergarten in Bogotá, inspired by flowers and designed as an open-ended, modular system. It is an example of how space can be used as an educational tool. Each module contains a classroom with a central courtyard, and the massing promotes natural ventilation; the interstitial spaces between the classrooms expand or contract, and each courtyard is defined by an educational and playful theme.

Through the development of open and adaptive systems comprised of modules and patterns, a design can grow and adapt to diverse situations — topographic, urban, or programmatic.

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