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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.99 Santiago ago. 2018 

Works & projects

Two Transmission Centers or the Machine Houses


Ignacio García Partarrieu1 

Arturo Scheidegger2 

1 Profesor Asistente Adjunto, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

2 Académico, Facultad de Arquitectura, Universidad San Sebastián, Santiago, Chile.


Visible from afar, telecom infrastructures broadcast signals to territories at distances even greater than those at which we can see them. The two projects presented here, however, show us what only appears when the antennae reach the ground in a public park: the architectures that decode the signals emanated by the infrastructure; in other words, the visible face of invisible waves.

Keywords: infrastructure; telecom; antennas; Metropolitan park; cerro San Cristóbal

As the highest point in the city of Santiago, the San Cristóbal hill is the strategic site where to install telecom infrastructures. In its summits eleven antennas are located next to a series of minor constructions that allow to decode its contents. These small containers are the visible face of invisible waves. The coexistence of these infrastructures with the hill’s public and geographical condition has led the park authorities to look for in new projects, a relationship between architectural image and technical functionality that had been previously neglected. There is the opportunity to rethink the 'black box' condition of these constructions, so that they cease to be a negative externality hidden from the public.

Figure 1 Transmission Centers I and II site plan. N. S. 


Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 2 

The first project was the remodeling and reconditioning of an old transmission center at the top of the hill. We were asked to expand a second floor for the digital signal transmission equipment of a new television channel. The budget was almost entirely allocated to the technical equipment and the supporting structure, in a ratio of 1.5 t / m2.

Figure 3 Elevations. Published scale 1: 200 

Figure 4 Details. Published scale 1: 50 

Given the robust structure, we proposed a façade based on low budget prefabricated concrete elements, whose usual use is as parking lot floors in gardens. A simple constructive detail allowed positioning the blocks vertically to wrap the entire volume.

Figure 5 Section. Published scale 1: 125 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 6 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 7 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 8 

Source: © Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 9 

The concrete blocks’ skin absorbs both the existing and new architecture, as well as providing security to the machines, ventilating the generators and climate equipment and closing hermetic spaces for fragile digital machinery. The ambiguous scale that the blocks bring to the complex is only interrupted by large doors to lift and lower equipment.


Figure 10 Public areas 

Although located less than 100 meters from each other, the second plant is located under a very different condition. For security reasons, this is a closed site where diverse elements coexist: an antenna, a water accumulation pool for irrigation, abundant vegetation and several scattered buildings.

Figure 11 Plan of the complex. Published scale 1: 500 

Figure 12 Section AA - South elevation and east elevation. Published scale 1: 200 

Here we were asked to design a new construction and remodel the rest. Given the heterogeneity of elements, the project tries not to add anything new, but to be integrated to the natural and technical conditions. The programs are organized as a bar at the bottom of the site, materialized with steel mesh and green tinted concrete, a similar color to those of the pool and trees. The existing constructions are painted black. In addition, we proposed a small elevated walkway that allows to safely contemplate the pond, the antenna and the new volume, generating an intermediate instance, today nonexistent, between the public street and the inaccessible infrastructure.

Figure 13 Plan. Published scale 1: 200 

Figure 14 

Figure 15 Axonometric 

Figure 16 Section BB. Published scale 1: 200 

Figura 17 Details. Published scale 1: 100 

Transmission Center I

Architects: UMWELT (Arturo Scheidegger & Ignacio Garcia Partarrieu)

Office Partner: Juan Manuel Sepúlveda

Location: Parque Metropolitano, cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago, Chile

Client: Copesa, Parque Metropolitano

Structural engineering: Osvaldo Peñaloza

Building contractor: Milano

Electrical system: Efraín García

Materials: Galvanized steel structure, prefabricated concrete blocks (Adocesped)

Finishing materials: Polyurethane panel

Built surface: 190 m2

Project year: 2013

Construction year: 2014

Photographs: Felipe Fontecilla

Renders: UMWELT

Transmission Center II

Architects: UMWELT (Arturo Scheidegger & Ignacio Garcia Partarrieu)

Office Partner: Juan Manuel Sepúlveda

Location: Parque Metropolitano, cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago, Chile

Client: Torcón

Structural engineering: Osvaldo Peñaloza

Electrical system: Efraín García

Materials: Dyed reinforced concrete, galvanized steel structure

Built Surface: 200 m2

Project year: 2015

Renders: UMWELT

*UMWELT Office for practice and research in architecture and territorial planning founded by Ignacio García Partarrieu and Arturo Scheidegger, both architects and masters in architecture at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2012. His works and projects have been exhibited at biennials in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Venice and Santiago, the Storefront for Art and Architecture Gallery, the MoMA in New York and LIGA in Mexico. They have also lectured at conferences in Santiago, Montreal, Zürich, Weimar, Guadalajara, Mexico City and Lisbon. Have been awarded in different competitions, including the First Place at PP29 Memorial and the YAP CONSTRUCTO 2014. Have been nominated for the 2015 Iakov Chernikhov Award, the MCHAP Emerging 2016 and awarded the Millennium BCP Debut Award at the Fourth Lisbon Triennial in 2016. They are currently professors at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad San Sebastián.

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