StudioSC and Base Taller create concrete office building on steep Colombia site

US architecture practice StudioSC teamed up with Colombian studio Base Taller to design a triangular concrete commercial office building in Medellín, Colombia.

Known as Indie Lab, the 69,632-square foot (6,469-square metre) complex is situated on a steeply sloped site next to a nature preserve outside the city of Medellín.

An office building emerging from the jungle
StudioSC and Base Taller have created a triangular concrete office building in Medellín

The overall design drew inspiration from both busy streetscapes and the view out toward the preserve. The designed it “to connect to both in a meaningful way but still anchoring a new structure in hopes of tying them together,” StudioSC principal Stephen Conte told Dezeen.

Working with local Base Taller, StudioSC balanced the site’s “split dichotomy” by anchoring the plan around a main circulation core and making subtle changes as the building wrapped about the corner with a rounded transition.

Office building overlooking jungle
It is located on a steeply sloping site next to a nature preserve

In order to make the most of the site’s triangular shape, the team placed the building envelope along the perimeter of the property – allowing the necessary setbacks – but curved all three corners to soften the shape’s sharpness.

The curve became a way for the nine-story building to tie into the surrounding landscape.

Building made of two bottom brick floors and ribbons of offices on top
The design drew inspiration from busy streetscapes and the surrounding views

The primary circulation core is an exposed concrete stair and elevator shaft that draws attention to the northwest corner of the building. The curved concrete volumes are set off from the mass of the building – which is clad in light rust-coloured brick – with a narrow vertical relief between them.

Four upper floors are accentuated along the street façade with a brick frame and dark metal-faced floor plates. Floor-to-ceiling glazing wraps around the levels and brings light into the main office spaces. Native plants were integrated through the facade, adding bands of green.

Plants on windows
The plan reflects the site’s triangular shape

Atop four subterranean levels, the ground level is split in half with entry spaces holding the street edge and vertical parking stackers oriented along the hillside. The ground level also serves as a horizontal break in the project, acting as a band around the rear of the project.

As the site slopes away, “the building seems to emerge from the forest, connecting back to the concrete core,” Conte said.

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With one facade exposed to the dense forest, the team saw an opportunity to create intimate spaces that connect with nature, orienting the occupants to the preserve through vaulted brick arches on the northwest and southwest sides.

The interiors were left intentionally blank with exposed waffle slab concrete ceilings and concrete floors to allow future tenants or owners to purchase levels individually and redesign the spaces to fit the ethos of their businesses.

Arched windows made of brick
The team softened the shape with rounded corners

The site’s location negated the need for any mechanical heating system and the building’s arrangement acts as a passive heating strategy.

“We positioned the main concrete circulation core at the north end of the site, allowing the full path of the sun during the day to follow the open floor plates, warming the glass portions of the facade from morning until sunset,” the team said.

“The concrete and brick also act as a thermal mass, trapping warmth from the sun and releasing it at night.”

Other recent projects completed in Colombia include a brick-lined restaurant conversion by Lorenzo Botero and Martín Mendoza and a fabric fog catcher structure by Alsar Atelier and Oscar Zamora – both located in Bogotá.

The photography is by Matteo Soto and Rodrigo Rios.


Project credits:

Lead Architects: StudioSC, Base Taller
Landscape: Greenfield Design Studio

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