05. Feb 2011

A walk in the park…
Plaza Lo Castillo in Comuna Vitacura in Santiago de Chile/RCH

Text: Alison Ritter
Photos: Pedro Mutis

Is there any city under the sun that would not want flamingos in their municipal park? Not an easy wish to fulfil – but if the real thing is not possible, an attempt can be made to create artistic replicas and light them attractively to at least document one’s admiration of the graceful creatures. Paulina Sir illuminated the sculptures designed by star architect Gonzalo Mardones for a new park in Santiago de Chile.

Vitacura is acknowledged as one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in Santiago de Chile and is home to a number of aristocratic families and some of the most influential political and economic leaders in the country. There is an airport, luxury hotels, up-market stores and even a polo and equestrian club nearby. It went without saying, therefore, that this ultra-smart and prestigious district needed an ultra-smart and prestigious solution when it came to a design for Plaza Lo Castillo.
According to Gonzalo Mardones architecture should be made for man, not for architects, which is clearly why Plaza Lo Castillo is all about human scale. A design feature than runs through all Mardones’s work is strong geometry – clear-cut, simple and austere is how he likes it, but with a result that is a true spatial experience: “essential architecture made of ideas, light and space”.
The Plaza is no exception. The brief was to create a memorable space on the Avenida Vitacura, the main axis that cuts through this part of town linking Plaza Lo Castillo with El Mañío Promenade. The park itself was to be a welcoming place for people to relax in or meet friends, and it was to accommodate a wide variety of temporary activities. It was to be designed primarily for pedestrians, but also be able to cope with cars if necessary. Human scale is achieved in different ways. The layout of the gardens offers a clear structure. The geometrical maze of paths provides an easy overview of the space. The most striking feature without doubt is the series of flamingo (sun)shades that offer shelter from the sun in the daytime and serve as elements that can be illuminated after dark. All components of the square – seating, café, shops – are visually linked at plaza level, with the sky as the greatest protagonist tying the Big Picture together. […]
The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 75.

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