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A New Public Space for the City: CAF Región Sur by LAPS Arquitectos

A New Public Space for the City: CAF Región Sur by LAPS Arquitectos

Sede CAF Región Sur by LAPS Arquitectos Ph. Javier Agustín Rojas

Built in 2018 in Montevideo, Uruguay and designed by LAPS Arquitectos, The CAF Región Sur building arises from the integration of two connected bodies through an internal courtyard that gives the city a new public space while keeping the pre-existing structure. The building includes the headquarters of the Development Bank of Latin‐American (CAF), a cinema complex, a bar, and public parking, and becomes a fresh intervention that activates forgotten urban spaces.

Ph. Javier Agustín Rojas

The building is the result of a national architecture competition promoted by CAF and sponsored by the local government of Montevideo. The terms and conditions of the contest asked for a mixed-used program to be built in the historic city center of Montevideo—in the old city, a sector full of history and strong urban symbols, that borders the new, expanded city.

The main project areas are the bank headquarters, a cinema complex for Cinemateca Uruguaya, the relocation of the historic FunFun bar, 150 public parking lots, and public changing rooms. The conditioning and recovery of the immediate urban environment were key requirements in the design proposal. The biggest challenge was to achieve co-inhabitation within a single building and urban space.

The structure of the existing building was preserved, synthesizing the relationship between permanence and transformation. Recognizing the different spatial and functional requirements, the building is conceived as two separate areas. CAF offices are located in the existing structure, while the cinema complex and the FunFun Bar are located in a new built volume next to Reconquista Street. Both buildings form an internal public courtyard. The void is conceived as an articulation between the existing and the new. It is a configuration of public space that feeds on the surrounding activities and proposes continuity in the ground floor level. At the same time, taking into account that this is an area exposed to strong winds, it allows for a protected entrance to the building.

Instead of concentrating the different architectural programs in one compact, dense building, the strategy adopted was to extend them. Thus, a 96‐meter building façade was built on Ciudadela Street. The project also unified the previously separated architectural programs. Using a single architectural device, like a veiled skin that surrounds the built volumes, a unitary image is created. This idea is materialized with a stainless-steel mesh that wraps around the building and creates a nuanced relationship between the building and its surroundings.

At the sidewalk and road level, a public platform was built that includes the Cinema Complex, the FunFun Bar, and CAF’s public activities, incorporating in its extension the existing Teatro Solís and the Barrio de las Artes.

The renovation is sustainable. For the development of the project and the construction itself, aspects associated with energy efficiency were taken into account.

Ph. Javier Agustín Rojas

DATE: 2012 (National Architecture Contest. First prize), 2012-2016 (design), 2016-2018 (construction) / LOCATION: Ciudadela 1229, Montevideo, Uruguay / AREA: 15.500 m2 (built), 8.050 m² (outdoor spaces) / PROGRAM: CAF Headquarters, cinema complex, bar, public parking / STATUS: built / DESIGN: LAPS ARQUITECTOS  (Carlos Luis Labat Nadal, Ricardo Pierino Porta Turban, Nicolás Scioscia Salvatore, Luis Fernando Romero Fregenal) / CONSTRUCTION: STILER S.A. / CONSULTANTS: Magnone Pollio Ingenieros Civiles (Structural Engineering), Estudio Pittamiglio (Hydraulic Engineering), Ing. Luis Lagomarsino & Asociados (HVAC, Fire Protection), Estudio Hofstadter (Electrical and Artificial Lighting), Ing. Mario Faucher, Arq. Carolina Manisse (Acoustic Engineering) / Ing. Agr. Pablo Ross, Arq. Irene Ross (Landscape) / CLIENT: CAF – Banco de Desarrollo de America Latina / PHOTOS: Javier Agustín Rojas

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