11.12.2007

Centro Cultural Del Bicentenario

Conversion and refurbishment of the ancient Post and Telecommunications Palace & ideas for its surrounding area

Placed in the political and cultural centre of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the former Post and TelecommunicationsPalace, a high valued heritage and historical building will be transformed into the «Centro Cultural del Bicentenario». First prize of an international competition, this project mixes avant-garde architectural programs with meticulous restoration work.Concert halls, exhibitions rooms, auditoriums, the «Centro Cultural del Bicentenario» with more than 100 thousand square meters of surface will become one of the biggest cultural centres worldwide.

 

Context
The Post and
TelecommunicationsPalace was originally designed to host the headquarters of the Argentinean central post, by French architect Norbert Maillart. The construction begun in 1889 in the area limited by Leandro N. Alem and Corrientes Avenues, and Bouchard and Sarmiento Streets, downtown Buenos Aires. After numerous interruptions, the building was finally opened in 1928.
In 1997 the building was listed as a
NationalHistoricMonument, due to its architectural excellence, its historic importance and the valuable heritage inside.
The development of new communication tools during the 20th century affected traditional postal traffic. As a result, the building is nowadays
inappropriate and oversized for present requirements. In this context, the Argentinean government decides the conversion of this building into an international cultural centre and symphony hall, providing new life to the building.

 

International proposals competition
The competition to convert and refurbish the old Post and
TelecommunicationsPalace has been organised by the Argentinean Ministry of Federal Planning, Public Investments and Services together with the National Secretary of Culture and the Central Architects Society. Forty international proposals were submitted.
The president of the Jury was architect Ramón Sanabria Boix, from
Barcelona. The rest of the members are architects Carlos Berdichevsky, Javier Fernández Castro, Mederico Faivre, María Teresa Egozcue, Edgardo Minond, Mario Linder and José Ignacio Miguens.
The winner of the competition was the team formed by Argentinean architects Enrique Bares, Federico Bares, Nicolás Bares, Daniel Becker, Claudio Ferrari and Florencia Schnack. They in are charge of developing the final project.
The second prize was not awarded, which is very rare in this type of competition.
The third place is shared by proposals of Juan José Vicario & Juan Ignacio Meoz, and Luis Ibarlucía & César Jaimes. Besides, honorific distinctions were conferred to specialists Valeria Migueles & Pablo Rozenwasser; Rolando Schere & Jorge O. Moscato; Alberto Varas & Julián Varas; Flora Manteola, Javier Sánchez Gómez, Josefa Santos, Justo José Solsona, Carlos Sallaberry & Damián Vinson; Tom Payne, Carlos Ventin, Chris Hall & Peter Berton, from Canada.

 

Project Description
Conversion and refurbishment of the former Post and Telecommunications Palace

Placed between the historic centre and next to the recently converted dock district of Puerto Madero, the Post and
TelecommunicationsPalace stands in one of the most emblematic areas, downtown Buenos Aires. This project intends to use the new Cultural Centre as a central piece to transform the area into a cultural-oriented hub.
The ground floor is a wide open space. Functioning as a sort of “cultural corridor”, this opening will make the building become a vibrant, permeable, full-of-life space. An organized system of public squares, in different levels, links the new cultural programs with the most significant areas of the historic building.
The project involves mainly two types of operations: the restoration of the historic building, listed as a
NationalHistoricMonument that will produce a contrast with the contemporary architectural programmes. The facades and the noble areas inside the building are entirely refurbished whereas the industrial area is partially emptied to house the new architectural programs.
Following logic of analogy objects, the new space will be defined by three singular elements. Inside of the empty space that will be produced in the industrial part of the building, a “cage” of metal columns will generate a new facade, a transition between the past and the present. Playing with the comparison of the big candelabras hanging on big concert halls and theatres, the big exhibition rooms will be hosted in the contemporary “chandelier”. The Symphony Hall is contained in a particular object that occupies a central place in this composition: the “blue whale”. The recovering of the main dome of the Palace transforms a residual room in one of the most emblematic points of the “Centro Cultural del Bicentenario”. Besides serving for cultural activities, this new place will become a symbol of national civic space.

 

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Ideas for the urban surroundings
The building area is connected with the most important political and civic centre of the city and the country, “Plaza de Mayo” (May square) opposite the Casa Rosada, seat of the office of the President. The area also limits with
Corrientes Avenue, whose traditional and popular character is to be recovered, and the recently refurbished dock area of Puerto Madero. Many public and private buildings with an important role in the Argentinean culture are located in this sector. Buildings with a high historic importance related to the entertainment, culture, business, education and research make this area particularly attractive for national and international tourists. The diversity of these elements, today scattered around the area, could become strength if the character of their urban environment is designed as this proposal suggests. The new Bicentenary Cultural Centre will play a main role in bringing new life to the area, reinforcing its cultural dimension.

 

Two perpendicular lines
The project suggests reorganization in order to end with the present fragmentation of the area. Firstly, a basic structure consists in imaging a new perpendicular line to the traditional one formed by the Parliament, Avenida de Mayo (May Avenue) and Casa Rosada (Seat of the President). This new line which links the area concerned in the competition will become the new park, the
BicentenaryPark. This sector appears as a critical link in the north-south connection of the city. The centre of the line is crossed by the civic and institutional line previously mentioned (Government Seat, May Avenue, House of the Parliament) and two squares mark the south and north limits.

 

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New circulation and movements system
The proposal suggests the construction of tunnels to connect Avenues Leandro N. Alem and Paseo Colón, and Avenues Eduardo Madero and Ingeniero Huergo, thus allowing the predestination of the area and improving the connection of the recently restored neighbourhood Puerto Madero with the city centre. The adjoining streets are also pedestrians, as part of a process of integration of the Cultural Centre with the new
BicentenaryPark.
The proposal contributes to dissuade the using of individual automobile in the city centre and facilitates a general organization of public transport system. The present organization of the circulation in the area requires a new design that would take account of an harmonious connection between public, private and alternative transport means and the walkers.

 

The BicentenaryPark
The
BicentenaryPark is a public promenade that unifies the existent green spaces with the new proposed gardens and the Arts Square, shaping a civic space of long sights and recreational areas. This park plays a regenerative part as a green oasis for the city centre and plays a social part in reinvigorating the social fabric of the city. The park facilitates the meeting between people and the contact with the cultural and recreational activities.
The Arts Square is a neutral and clear setting serving to integrate the building with the different gardens that form the
BicentenaryPark. This neutral square with the main facade of the building as a background, functions as the main access to the Cultural Centre. Two steel fountains mark the limit of the square and produce a sound that tolls the Bicentenary.
The
BicentenaryGardens are formed by a system of gardens that work as the east border of the Park. Underneath, many levels form the public transportation transfer area.

 

The team
This project is the result of the partnership of two Argentinean studios: BBBSA from
La Plata and Becker-Ferrari from Buenos Aires. The six Senior Partners are:
Enrique Bares, Federico Bares, Nicolás Bares, Daniel Becker, Claudio Ferrari and Florencia Schnack.
This diverse team fulfils the multiple and specific requirements of this project: specific architecture is needed to meet with acoustic criteria in music theatres. Galleries and museums demand particular climate and lighting conditions. This building has been listed as a
NationalHistoricMonument. As a result, deep knowledge in cultural heritage and restoration techniques are required.

Enrique Bares
Senior Partner

Architect Enrique Bares graduated from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the
La PlataNationalUniversity where he is a professor at present. He has been a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme, President of the Buenos Aires Architects Association, Senior Advisor of the University of La Plata, and a member of jury and advisors body of Argentinean Architects Federation.
In 2001 he founded the BBBSA Studio with architects Federico Bares, Nicolás Bares and Florencia Schnack, in City Bell, Argentina.

 

Federico Bares
Senior Partner

Born in
La Plata (Argentina), architect Federico Bares graduated from de Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the NationalUniversity of that city. Having gained a Masters Degree in Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design (HarvardUniversity), he lectured at the University of Buenos Aires, at the University of La Plata and Puerto Rico.
In 2001 he founded the BBBSA Studio with architects Enrique Bares, Nicolás Bares and Florencia Schnack, in City Bell, Argentina.

 

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Nicolás Bares
Senior Partner

Having graduated from the National University of La Plata, architect Nicolás Bares gained a Masters Degree in Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design,
HarvardUniversity. He is a professor in Design at the Di Tella University in Buenos Aires.
In 2001 he founded the BBBSA Studio with architects Enrique Bares, Federico Bares and Florencia Schnack, in City Bell, Argentina.

 

Florencia Schnack
Senior Partner
Architect Florencia Schnack graduated from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the National University of La Plata, where she also lectured.
In 2001 he founded the BBBSA Studio with architects Enrique, Federico and Nicolás Bares, in City Bell, Argentina.

BBBSA Studio and its members have been awarded in international and national competitions, including: the first prize in the competition for annex building of Architects and Landscape Architects Association of Puerto Rico (2003), the second prize in the International Competition of Public Housing Duxton Plain in Singapore (2002), the first prize in the national competition of proposals for Argentinean Theatre of La Plata (1979) and the first prize in the international competition for the remodelling of the central area in Santiago, Chile (1970).

 

Alejandro Daniel Becker
Senior Partner
After graduating at the
University of Buenos Aires, architect Alejandro Daniel Becker gained a Master’s Degree in Architecture at the Graduate School of Design (HarvardUniversity). He is a Professor in Urban project and Architectural project at the Faculty of Architecture, Urbanism and Design of the University of Buenos Aires.
In 1993 he founded the Becker-Ferrari studio with partner architect Claudio Ferrari in
Buenos Aires.

 

Claudio Ferrari
Senior Partner
Having graduated from the
University of Buenos Aires, architect Claudio Ferrari has been teaching in several institutions since. He lectured at BarcelonaUniversity; he has been an associate professor in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Urbanism of the University of Buenos Aires and he teaches at present at the PalermoUniversity in Buenos Aires.
In 1993 he founded the Becker-Ferrari studio with partner architect Daniel Becker in
Buenos Aires.

The Becker-Ferrari studio has received awards in national and international competitions: a gold medal in Miami Biennale 2003, first prize in the competition for Mendoza Central Park (1999), first prize (associated) in the competition “Ideas for University Campus” (Buenos Aires, 1998), first prize (associated) in the National competition “Ideas for the Retiro area” (1996) and first prize in Buenos Aires Biennale 1995. Architects Becker and Ferrari were awarded Vitruvio Prize for architects of the new generation, by the ArgentineanNationalMuseum of Fine Arts.

 

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