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LA PAZ, Colombia

September 2018


Edison Henao Carvajal, B.Arch., M.Arch., Ph.D.Arch. Associate Professor at the National University of Colombia - Isabel Llanos Chaparro, B.Arch., M.Arch., Ph.D.Arch. Associate Professor at the National University of Colombia - Ángela María Álvarez, B.Arch. - Mateo Cardona Ramírez, B.Arch.


ARCHITECTURE: Arq. Daniel Uribe Quiñones; Arq. Diana Carolina Ortiz González; Arq. Cristian Andrés Berrío; Arq. Eduardo Javier Tibanta Orbes; Arq. Harold Fernando Montenegro; Arq. Juanita Rivera Giraldo; Arq. Jakeline Quiñones Pantoja; Arq. Estefanía Marín Murillo; Arq. Yeimy Marcela Rios R. – STRUCTURE DESIGN: Ing. Diego Julian Pardo Galvis, Ing. Alberto J. García Fergusson, Ing. William F. Gutiérrez Correa – HYDRAULIC DESIGN: Ing. Ricardo J. Forero Trejos – ELECTRIC DESIGN: Ing. Juan Carlos Castaño Loaiza – HVAC DESIGN: José Tobar Arango y CIA. LTDA. – CONSTRUCTION: Unión Temporal UNINAL Cesar (Constructor), Alma VP Proyectos (Metallic structure) – CONSTRUCTION INPSECTION: Prof. Julio Colmenares (Inspector), Prof. Rafael Cruz (Construction adviser), Prof. Gustavo Mahecha (HVAC Adviser), Prof. Camilo Avellaneda (Architecture adviser), Ing. Jorge Cicua (Structural adviser), Ing. Luis Céspedes (Electric adviser), Ing. Hernán Jiménez (Voic&Data adviser), Ing. Edison Pérez (Hydraulic adviser), Abg. Paola Devia (legal advisor), Ing. William Rivera (coordinator), Ing. Ricardo Jiménez (sub-coordinator), Ing. Catalina Cañas, María Ximena Bermúdez, Jhon Villanueva (Director in site), Arq. Mateo Cardona R., Cynthia Macías (resident architect), Arq. Julieth Villanueva (architect assistant), Ing. Jhonatta Pardo, Luis Carlos Olivella (resident civil engineer), Ing. Rafael Sáenz (resident electric engineer), Ing. José Zabaleta (resident civil engineer), Carlos Aragón (engineer assistant), Ing. Spencer Robles, Abel Hernández, Gustavo Badel, Tatiana Beleño, Boddy Meléndez (construction inspector), Jaqueline Barreto (administrative coordinator)




Ángela María Álvarez, B.Arch.


The building is open to the exceptional geographical conditions of the VALLE DEL CACIQUE UPAR. This valley, crossed by the CESAR river, is 17 kilometers wide and is flanked by the SIERRA NEVADA DE SANTA MARTA and the SERRANÍA DEL PERIJÁ, the last foothills of the Andes Mountain Range. The territory is covered by tropical dry forest, associated with short rainy seasons.

The positioning of the building is determined by the rigorous climatic conditions of the site. The short façades of the pavilion open sun rising and setting, protecting the interior from direct solar radiation. While the longest facades open to the north and south, making the most of the trade wind cycle coming from the Caribbean Sea. The result is a simple architecture without sophisticated thermodynamic devices, whose spaces are lit and ventilated naturally.

The building rises above the campus event plaza as a protective barrier to mitigate the effect of the high temperatures on-site (38° Celsius - 100 Fahrenheit). Library, collective space and landscape come together to form a democratic location propitious to socialization and well-being.

The inner spaces are designed as an open plan, free and diaphanous; in accordance with the flexible need of an academic activity that is in constant transformation. It is built in natural exposed concrete that requires little maintenance.


This project is located in the municipality of La Paz Robles, a few kilometers from the city of Valledupar, in the Colombian semi-desert Caribbean region, which includes the departments of Cesar, Guajira, and Magdalena, located in the northwest of South America. This region is populated by indigenous tribes that preserve their pre-Columbian culture, despite the processes of colonization and violence suffered in their history.

The UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DE COLOMBIA, in association with the GOBERNACIÓN DEL CESAR, has conceived the project CAMPUS LA PAZ to restore the social conditions of this valuable territory, given the low rates of university educational offer (0,7% nationally). The facilities built to date have made access possible for the youth in the region to quality education.

In accordance with the needs of this university headquarters, the plans for the first stage include five blocks of classrooms, a restaurant-cafeteria, a library, eight laboratories, general services, and landscaping, which allowed to receive the first thousand undergraduate and postgraduate students in January 2019, of the 6,000 that the campus will house.

Among the campus buildings, the library stands out as the most significant element of the complex. The status of a collective and diverse space in which knowledge is brought together requires a building whose configuration sets a milestone in the surrounding landscape.


The library (3227 m2) is held by two main pillars with an “H” shape that contains in its inside the stairs and elevator. Two Vierendel beams, 40 m long between supports, hold the building elevated to protect the main square from solar radiation. Two 70 m long windows, one to the south, one to the north, incorporate to the inside the captivating orographic systems (LA SIERRA NEVADA DE SANTA MARTA and LOS ÁNDES). In clear mornings it is possible to appreciate with sharpness the landscape conformed by the PICO COLÓN (in indigenous GONAWINDUA) and the PICO BOLIVAR (in indigenous CHUNDUA). These are the higher mountains in COLOMBIA and a sacred place for ancient indigenous of this region.

The heavy bookshelves of the library are located in the central area, to preserve the continuity of the inner space. This open plan (clear spam) allows the building to adapt to activities of the most varied kind. Below the main floating building, and with a direct relationship with the terrain, is found the platform where the administrative activities are developed.

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