Page D2.2 . 05 September 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Santiago Solitaire
  • Market v. Meaning

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    Santiago Solitaire


    The architects’ response was to create an environment with a sense of exclusivity. The site is narrow, less than 15 meters (49 feet) wide, but deep. The designers chose to push the storefront back into the site, making space for an open-air, park-like buffer between the shop and the street. This allows a critical distance between the bustle of Alonso de Córdova and the quiet world of Joyeria SH2K, conducive to languid perusal of the shop’s glittering offerings.

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    The depth of the open forecourt is exaggerated by the strips of dark slate walkway and grass that lead to the front door. At first you might mistake the lines of black stone for channels of water, alternating with long, narrow islands of green. The effect makes the store appear as if an altar at the end of a long nave, removed from your grasp. It is accessible only through a procession along the stone and grass.

    The building itself continues the idea of a long strip. In this case, it is as if the architects have taken a ribbon of concrete and bent it up and over itself, creating an envelope inside which the jewels are displayed. As architect Cristóbal Gross describes the design, the front of the building is more a section than a facade, showing the shape of the space inside. The heaviness of the concrete is visually counteracted by raising it about 60 centimeters (two feet) over the entry court, above which it appears to gently float.

    The concrete ribbon starts on the left side of the courtyard as a ramp that rises across the site to the entrance, and then proceeds to shoot straight up about two stories, double back to form a roof, and then move back down, changing direction again to create a low-roofed pergola enclosure over an outdoor seating area for customers. With a single material, the architects create floors, walls, and ceilings — a flowing river of concrete that contains the shop.

    The interior is separated from the front courtyard by large sheets of plate glass, allowing display of the shop’s contents for all to see. The glass walls are detailed so that anchors and mounting plates are virtually hidden. The back of the store has a glass wall that overlooks a small garden dominated by the image of a Buddha.

    Inside the diminutive, 47-square-meter (506-square-foot) shop, the architects have created eight wall niches to display the merchandise. The shop’s chrome, mirror, and acrylic furniture and light fixtures virtually disappear amid reflections and transparency. Where the concrete ribbon descends and turns to form the pergola, four chrome-clad columns appear. Just beyond this wall is the outdoor space under the pergola, intended as a private area for patrons to sit, relax, and discuss their choice purchases before pulling out the credit card.

    The architecture of Joyeria SH2K is like that of a perfectly cut and burnished diamond, set within its context to maximize its luster as a jewel in the crown of Chile’s capital city.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    Michael J. Crosbie is editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, the chair of the University of Hartford’s Department of Architecture, and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.



    ArchWeek Image

    Nighttime illumination of the Joyeria jewelry store emphasizes the jewelry box metaphor.
    Photo: Giuseppe Brucculeri

    ArchWeek Image

    Floor-to-ceiling glass walls, some operable, reinforce the connection between the interior of the Joyeria jewelry store and the exterior patio and garden.
    Photo: Giuseppe Brucculeri

    ArchWeek Image

    The Joyeria store interior.
    Photo: Giuseppe Brucculeri

    ArchWeek Image

    Floor plan drawing.
    Image: Cristobal Gross

    ArchWeek Image

    Building section drawing.
    Image: Cristobal Gross Extra Large Image Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The Joyeria store interior at night.
    Photo: Giuseppe Brucculeri

    ArchWeek Image

    Simple glass display cases, mounted within the wall, have double function as architectural ornaments.
    Photo: Giuseppe Brucculeri

    ArchWeek Image

    Simple geometry helps the sun animate the of Joyeria jewelry store street facade.
    Photo: Giuseppe Brucculeri


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