Modular Building Institute

Recicla USACH

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Main Category:
Modular Building Design
ATCO Sabinco
Santiago, Chile
Building Use:
University Classes
Gross Size of Project:
8000 Square Feet
Days to complete:

Award Criteria

  1. Architectural Excellence
    To raise awareness about sustainability, the University of Santiago de Chile decided to practice what it preaches with its “recycled” education centre. Developed together with their architecture department, this two-story university was built using 16 reused 40’ containers and reclaimed wood and steel from demolitions, which are stacked and placed on railroad tracks. Except for the flat roof that was mounted on site, all components were done at the ATCO Sabinco factory. Located in the centre of the campus, the new building had to be built with minimal disruption to the surrounding areas. The building consists of three classrooms and two study rooms (one can be turned into an outdoor theatre), plus open-air walkways and straight staircases with intermediate landing. To give the building a modern look and to maximize daylight, double-glazed windows were used as walls, replacing the containers’ steel walls, which allowed daylight into the classrooms until 9 p.m. in the summer.
  2. Technical Innovation & Sustainability
    With the exception of mounting the roof on site, all other materials were manufactured offsite at ATCO Sabinco factory, taking full advantage of offsite construction. This is first container building at USACH, and it was completed with all recycled materials: secondhand shipping containers, as well as steel and wood from demolished buildings. One of its most prominent features is the double-glazed windows, which replaced the containers’ steel walls. Structural engineering analysis was needed to ensure that the glass can support not just the containers, also the roof of the building. Wood floors of the containers were polished in order to give the classrooms a unique look.
  3. Cost Effectiveness
    The Recicla building is extremely cost effective in the way that all materials used were recycled or reclaimed. The 16 shipping containers used were all acquired secondhand, and hardwood and steel were recovered from demolished old buildings. Most of the work was done offsite, so time required on site was short. Ventilation from the use of open and outdoor space reduced air conditioning costs, and the use of floor-to-ceiling windows allowed ample daylight in, reducing the need for artificial lighting and its associated costs.
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