“Architecture cannot create a revolution. However, architecture possesses the ability to position technological and social change into situations people can understand, thus either accelerating or slowing such transformations.” –Bernard Tschumi
Developed for SCL2110, an international conference on architecture and performance in Santiago de Chile, our proposal uses the atmosphere itself as an instrument of design. The boundlessness of atmospheric phenomena is counterbalanced by examination of local air pollution effects and annexation of the smog as territory for the project.
The proposal is in effect an urban scale HVAC system that capitalizes on local atmospheric cycles and conditions to fuel a citywide, daily performance of cleaning the air. Like massive mechanical elements, tunnels and towers use thermal convection to draw smog laden city air up into the atmosphere above Cerro San Cristobál (a finger of the Andes extending into Santiago). By puncturing the thermal inversion – an abrupt change in atmospheric temperature above the city that traps pollutants – the artificially created current of warm air triggers violent thunderstorms. The resulting atmospheric disruption would temporarily disperse the thermal inversion, allowing the air to clear. The city’s atmosphere, constrained by the Andes, is regulated as if it were a building’s interior. But unlike a building’s interior, that regulation is tied to the solar cycle and planetary atmospheric conditions. In this proposal, the dynamism of the natural environment is harnessed for architectural gain producing new definitions of public and urban exchange, new sensations and new experiences in a futurist vision for Santiago.
The proposal is as much a corrective environmental measure as it is an effort to provide Santiago with an icon of a new global identity. It is symbolic of potential 21st Century lifestyles that transgress perceived boundaries between urban and natural environments through speculative and tactical application of technological apparatus and social acceleration. The ventilation tunnels contain diverse public programs. A shopping center, a technical university, and a nightclub that create a new public epicenter cutting through the mountain that divides wealth from poverty in Santiago. Circulation is provided simultaneously for air and for people in an effort to stitch disparate regions into a cohesive whole. At Parque Atmosféra, public encounter becomes an aspect of the weather – and both become embodied in a mutable architecture.
This performative and atmospheric architecture is represented through an immersive and interactive video installation to highlight the suggested obsolescence of boundary between the human body, the urban experience and the natural environment.
Collaboration with Bernard Tschumi Architects and Mess.