Alejandro Aravena's Innovation Center UC photographed by Cristobal Palma


These new shots by Chilean photographer Cristobal Palma reveal the monumental cube structure of the UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini by 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate Alejandro Aravena (+ slideshow).

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

Aravena's firm Elemental completed the 8,176-square-metre building in 2014.

The 14-storey structure – which includes three floors underground – was designed to bring together businesses and university researchers.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

Located on the campus of Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago, the building has an unusual form made up of huge concrete slabs.

These appear to have been stacked up like Jenga pieces, creating a series of gaps and protrusions.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

The gaps form deep recessed windows fronted by balconies, designed to prevent the network of communal interior spaces from getting too hot.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

Talking about the project in a lecture in November, Aravena explained how the client had asked for a glass building.

But he felt this would result in costly air-conditioning bills, so he came up with an entirely different solution.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

"We almost lost the contract because we designed an opaque building," said the architect, explaining that glass buildings are completely unsuited to the Chilean climate.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

"From a functional point of view we knew that the project had to be able to be adjusted," he said, and described his alternative design as a return to more "primitive" forms of architecture.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

"We wanted to have a more stupid design, something that was not about designing but about the composition," he added. "We were trying to get away from the sun, not go looking for the sun."

The move paid off – the centre uses half the amount of energy as a glass tower block.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

Inside, the building comprises a "matrix" of formal and informal areas meeting areas and workspaces, designed to encourage interactions between the various occupants.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini was named as the winner of the architecture category in the London Design Museum's 2015 Designs of the Year.

It is one of several buildings that Aravena has designed at the university where he studied architecture. Others include the Mathematics School and the Architecture School.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

Aravena was revealed as the 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate earlier this week.

In an exclusive interview with Dezeen, he said that universities are failing to give architects the training that will enable them to find solutions for an imminent global housing crisis – one of the topics expected to feature in this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, which he is curating.

Centro Innovacion UC Anacleto Angelini

Photography is by Cristobal Palma, who is also based in Santiago. In an interview with Dezeen in 2014, Palma revealed that social media is changing the way architects and photographers work.

  • price

    Nothing can justify this choice! Obviously there is a group of friends supporting their friends, but he is still mediocre. He will be forever… PS, architecture is not a social institution nor a Red Cross department.

  • Roberto Ferlito

    Each building has its own essence made by different context variables that in the case of a public building should be the capacity to read the needs of the users working and “living” in. At least one of the most important.

    To me, this project is a considerably wrong contemporary building regarding the relation between its functions and main activities. That is why for the students it seems to be a prison.

    I suppose innovators and researchers nowadays need an “open” space and friendly support and flexibility to arrange different activities and stimulate communication at all levels. In the contemporary era the trend is to let architecture disappear from the cliches of built boxes and mass volumes.

    To let the limits be diffused, you do not need glass to do this. A building is more and more important for its program and adaptability to contemporary life. This seems to be a renaissance contemplative block, static and imposed.

    As a sculpture it is well calibrate I can see, but as a building I do not agree with its relations between the parts and the outside. It seems like an exercise of style.

    • Wolfgang

      What would be your plans? What materials, etc.? What would you use? Tell us…

      It seems you thought about it a lot. So, come on share your vision for this building. Thanks.

  • Photo number two in slideshow and 4th from bottom illustrate the building’s serious scale issues.

  • spadestick

    Beautiful! Lots of haters here.