cueva de luz
Entre Nos Atelier
San José, Costa Rica
In an urban slum, ‘Cueva’ underpins communal, private and governmental initiatives to promote an integral formative system for social inclusion via arts and life skills. The project provides multifunctional spaces to develop cultural exchange and learning environments based on inclusive design processes within the community and the client. The 4-storey wood building is unique in the region and comprises a learning center incorporating a dojo, music school, community center, fab-lab, among others. The program is based on users' needs, environmental constraints and limited resources. Thus the design process included key stakeholders. The most important design guidelines pointed to efficient constraints related to the budget, multifunctional spaces and effective circulations to facilitate seamless interaction between the different areas, levels and immediate surroundings. The architectural proposal required designing a double-bodied four-level open-plan building comprising a 2690 square feet footprint amounting to a total area of 10764 square feet. The ground-level accommodates primarily public recreational areas, an amphitheater, exhibition hall and administrative facilities. The second, third and fourth floors contain open-plan multifunctional spaces that can be privatized when required using lightweight divisions and acoustic panels.Furthermore, between the two volumes, a system of ramps and staircases generates an atrium, which serves as a gallery, transitional space and guarantees universal accessibility at all levels. The Cave of Light is a project that questions the limits of urban development in our cities. It reflects that citizen empowerment and the sum of public and private wills can go beyond the “formal” urban restrictions in "codes” that often contradict common sense and community aspirations. It is a project that proposes the social habitat construction from a viable, manageable and accessible way within the complexity of the context-city scale.
The project has led to a series of initiatives and interventions causing collateral urban regeneration from human relationships and active citizenship. The effectiveness of an urban acupuncture strategy stands as evidence of users appropriation processes, e.g. when the project was not completed yet, it was used when site conditions allowed it. So far, 900 community members of all ages have access to the weekly base programs, incorporating 150 tutor volunteers into an: orchestra, dojo, music school, community center, and fab-lab. In terms of the construction, budget constraints required rethinking the structural system into serial close-repeated laminated wood braced frames rather than concrete & steel as initially conceived, achieving 30% savings based on local wood expert's recommendations. It is, in fact, a vertical wood building local innovation built precedent, located in a marginal community. The environmental design strategy mainly consists of an atrium space for visual comfort and structural frames, incorporating wood vents and operable panels for natural, cross ventilation and daylight. Furthermore, the galvanized mesh and sheets in the envelope provide a sense of secure enclosure and rain protection. Since the project does not require complex construction systems due to the dense-complex urban environment, it is 100% portable. All timber can be re-assembled or reused in case of reconfiguration as a critical sustainable principle. Additionally, all wood accounts for 224,000 tons of sequestered CO2 emissions. The project revalues its context and catalyzes new vertical alternatives for site empowerment.
The Cueva De Luz (Cave of Light) project by Entre Nos Atelier typifies New Wood Open Architecture by demonstrating how active participation in the architectural process can profoundly affect the surrounding community’s social, cultural and economic prosperity. Entre Nos Atelier meaningfully collected, organized, and synthesized the surrounding community's needs, acting as a facilitator throughout the design stages of the project. This approach informed many aspects of the project and fostered a strong relationship between the resulting architecture and its users. Meaningful participation at this stage of the project offers the participants an opportunity to learn about construction, giving them the agency to expand the building in the future or replicate it on a different site. The project also demonstrates how wood construction and detailing are uniquely suited to facilitate this high level of participation throughout the design and construction process. Each floor of the four-storey wood building is very flexible due to the clear spanning wood floor joists that direct all loads to the exterior wall. This concept allows the plan of each floor to be free of load bearing walls and highly adaptable to suit a variety of community needs. Partition walls can be easily added or removed to vary the size and privacy of interior spaces. The result is a highly resilient building that will continue to meet the surrounding community's needs as they inevitably change.