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Siamese Towers, Santiago, Chile

One of the main hallmarks of architect’s talent is the ability to create a building which meets the expectations of the client. Very often this is not an easy task to perform. Nevertheless, if a task is hard, its completion usually brings more satisfaction. An example of successfully performed hard architectural task is the building, created for the Center for Technological Innovation of Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

This building, also known as Siamese Towers (Torres Siamesas), was completed in 2005 and is situated in Santiago, Chile. The architects of the building (Alejandro Aravena, Charles Murray, Alfonso Montero, Ricardo Torrejon, Emilio de la Cerda) were asked by the administration of Catholic University to build a glass tower to host everything connected with computers. The building was meant to symbolize the technological era and computer technologies. The main problem with the expectations of University administration was the needed limited floor space. Required 5000 square meters were not enough for a tower hence the architects had to find other solutions in order to satisfy the university’s requirements to design a tower, not a high building. The solution, suggested by architects, was to build a two-headed tower. The result of this design was an unusual building, which is split into two towers from seventh floor and reminds Siamese twins – with one lower body and different upper ones. In this way the architects created a high rise which is visually unique, capacious, firm and looks like a tower. Despite the first impression of being flimsy, this strange building has seismically highly resistant structure.

Siamese Towers don’t look vertical from outside. Starting from the seventh floor the towers are inclined to different directions. The building is double-layered: from outside it has a glass layer, and then inside - there is another building made out of fiber-cement. The glass frame of the building increases the natural illumination in it, and creates inclined external facade layer.

For the construction of one of the towers were used silver aluminum and for the other – black aluminum. This difference of colors makes the building particularly beautiful in the night when the lights inside of it are turned on.

The base of the building is made of railway sleepers. Main materials, used for its construction are glass, local woods (coigue and peanut), aluminum and fiber-cement.

Siamese Towers are an embodiment of new technologies and mathematical calculations, used to create a unique and catching building, an example of a successfully solved sophisticated architectural task.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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