A city or town that carefully preserves the ways of living developed in the past and passed on from generation to generation, through several customs, societies, practices, places, artistic expressions, and values, is a place that learns from history while preparing for the future. This delicate balance between ancient and contemporaneity is in essence what perdurable architecture, aimed at enduring continuously and contributing to nature and society, provides. 

That is the foundation of the Matta Sur Complex, and Luis Vidal + Architects’ definition of responsible architectural design: A contribution to the social dialogue and cultural heritage with environmental attentiveness. 

Project Details

Location: Santiago de Chile, Chile
Date: 2015 – 2021
Client: Ilustre Municipalidad de Santiago
Budget: Confidential
Area: 5.500 Square Metres
Architects: Luis Vidal + Architects
Civil Engineer: SCHAAD Ingenieros, Landscape Architect: Arbolaria Paisaje,
Contributors: Cristian Shadd, COBE, José María Jiménez
Project Status: Completed/Built
Project Scope: Addition/Expansion, New Construction, Preservation/ Restoration/ Refurbishment
Style: Modern, Traditional, Innovational
Awards: 1st Award Public Building (Built) – Rethinking The Future Awards 2021
Team: João Abreu – David Ávila – Bernat Burguera – Valentina Chisci – José Ignacio Comparini – Sebastián Cruz – Marta Cumellas – Juan Francisco Letelier – Arturo López-Bachiller – Carlos Maldonado – Concha Millán – Enrique Pérez – Patricia Plath – Raúl Rosado – Santiago Sánchez – Paola Seguel – Encarnación Serna – Gabriel Sgorbini – Óscar Torrejón – Italo Veas – Luis Vidal

An Overview of the Project

The result is a spellbinding building refurbishment that gives back to the city of Santiago de Chile one of its most magnificent architectural pieces.

The Matt Sur Complex consists of two structures located within the same site: the former Metropolitan Lyceum of Santiago, erected in 1891, and restored to house a nursery school, a gym facility, or an auditorium; and a newly-built structure which will be home to a CESFAM (a Public Primary Healthcare Center). Both these buildings spread over a total built area of 5,500 square meters and can support a community of more than 30,000 people. 

Apart from these buildings, there’s a public plaza (greened up with little shrubs) that articulates both buildings and is located in the center of the site to provide an open space for rejuvenation and to promote the community spirit through social activities, thus becoming the heart of the Matta Sur Complex. 

Have a close look at the pictures, and you will see the square shape not only organizes the spaces but also acts as a link among the structures and an access door to the buildings; Its carefully crafted landscape bridges the differences in elevation between one side of the site and the other, allowing entry into the buildings at different points and at different levels.

Matta Sur Community Health Center by Luis Vidal + Arquitectos: Combination of Delicate and Conscious design - Sheet1
Matta Sur Complex https://www.archdaily.com
Matta Sur Community Health Center by Luis Vidal + Arquitectos: Combination of Delicate and Conscious design - Sheet2
The Public Plaza https://www.archdaily.com

A Perfect Mix 

History, present-day, and future merge in this Chile-based project that splendidly blends technology with tradition, innovation with sustainability, and modernization with respect for the city’s historic constructions. Luis Vidal + Architects accepted the challenge of restoring this historic heritage site, while designing a contemporary construction that amalgamates harmoniously into the whole. The architectural firm took the best advantage of this unique opportunity to build an iconic space in the city where social life, clinical care, health, education, and the promotion of preventative health care meet. 

The aim was to translate the most singular elements of the preexisting structure while using a contemporary, austere language that does not compete with the ancient architecture and instead enhances it. Luis Vidal + Arquitectos used Hunter Douglas and Gerflor for the flooring, and Lamitech for the doors and furniture. As for the roofing, they employed Villalba (Frigoproof 60). 

Thanks to the work carried out, the Matta Sur Complex by Luis Vidal + Arquitectos was awarded the First Prize for Public Building (Built) at the Rethinking The Future Awards 2021. This unprecedented construction is the result of a participatory and strategic binding management model of municipal and community social organizations, the Municipal Health and Community Development Departments, both within the Municipality of Santiago. 

An Effective Dialogue between the Old and New

A careful study and keen analysis of the ancient historic constructions, combined with a conscious design that integrates material, space, rhythm, function, sustainability, façade and light theories (you can see how beautifully the sunlight in white slats of light play into the interiors); these are the key aspects of the proposal. 

As a result, Luis Vidal + Architects easily achieved their goal: to retrieve and reveal the structure´s original architecture and aesthetic value, while establishing an effective dialogue between ancient architecture and the new. 

Matta Sur Community Health Center by Luis Vidal + Arquitectos: Combination of Delicate and Conscious design - Sheet3
Matta Sur Complex https://www.archdaily.com
Matta Sur Community Health Center by Luis Vidal + Arquitectos: Combination of Delicate and Conscious design - Sheet4
Matta Sur Complex https://www.archdaily.com
Matta Sur Community Health Center by Luis Vidal + Arquitectos: Combination of Delicate and Conscious design - Sheet5
Matta Sur Complex https://www.archdaily.com
Author

Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.

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