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Cultural Center in a former port silo. Project of a student from Poland awarded!

26 of January '23

A {tag:studenci} from Wroclaw University of Technology has an idea for using an old port silo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His proposal is to transform the deteriorating building and its surroundings into a Cultural Center that could revitalize the Puerto Madero neighborhood. The „Centreje” project was the only one from Poland to be recognized in the international Silos Buenos Aires competition and received an honorable mention!

Archiwalne zdjęcie portu z silosem

archival photo of the port with the silo

© Terraviva Competitions

The challenge of the competition organized by Terraviva Competitions was to revitalize and make creative use of the post-industrial, monumental silo de la Junta General de Granos, located in Buenos Aires, on the east side of Puerto Madero. The silo in question is one of the few surviving port structures in the area and the only one that has not yet been revitalized. In 2018, the abandoned silo became the target of an artistic endeavor by Barbara Krugel, who, as part of the „Art Basel Cities” festival, painted a mural on its main facade, which is still there today. However, apart from this artistic activity, the building remains unused and is increasingly deteriorating.

Silos, stan aktualny  Argentyński silos aktualnie

silo, current state

© Terraviva Competitions

The Silos Buenos Aires competition encouraged participants to think outside the box and experiment unlimitedly with ideas, but while respecting the context of the surroundings. The challenge ran under the theme of "reuse." The question asked was what kind of intervention would be able to revitalize the site, giving it back to the city. What kind of program would be appropriate for such a specific building? How to introduce mixed-use functions into such a space, and what new functions would revitalize the surroundings?

A project from Poland honored!

The works submitted from all over the world were evaluated by an international jury consisting of: Giancarlo Mazzanti (El Equipo Mazzanti, Colombia), Luciana Lembo (Adamo-Feiden, Argentina), He Jianxiang (O-OFFICE, China), Ilse Cárdenas (PALMA, Mexico), Juan Lucas Young (Sauerbruch Hutton, Germany), Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli (2050+, Italy), Maria Cecilia Stoppani (Tectoo, Italy), Tomas Balparda (BBOA, Aregentina).

As we read on the competition's website, all the awarded projects were interesting proposals for adapting an existing structure to new uses and functions, making full use of the original features and space of the Silo de la Junta General de Grano.

 Projekt „Centreje” na planie miasta Projekt „Centreje”, lokalizacja

The project plot is located in the Puerto Madero neighborhood

© Przemyslaw Ruta

First Prize was awarded by the jury to the work "Protect me from what I love" by a team from Italy consisting of Lorenzo Maritan, Anna Serio. Second Prize for the project „Tangoing Hemline” went to a team from China and Taiwan, consisting of: Frank Zhexuan Wu, Ina Yien Wu, Adrian Wenbin Wen, Monica Huizhong Song. Third Prize went to the authors of the „Multidisciplinary Exchange Center” project from Argnetina: Julia Dalal Hadid, Gastón Sironi, Nicolás Sironi, Agustín Prieto. Four gold awards and ten honorable mentions were also given, among which the only one from Poland was the project „Centreje” by Przemyslaw Ruta of Wroclaw University of Technology.

Centreje” in Spanish (centrum, entre, eje) means Cultural Center located on an urban axis in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. It is a project to revitalize and adapt an old, disused reinforced concrete grain silo located in the city's relatively new Puetro Madero neighborhood into a multifunctional cultural center, the author explains.

Schemat projektowy, przeszłość, stan aktualny i przyszłość

design scheme, past, present and future

© Przemyslaw Ruta

history of Puerto Madero

The subject of the project, in addition to the silo itself, is the development of the surrounding areas, which include: Queen of Holland Square with underground parking, a section of the boulevard named after Olga Cossettinii, a section of the coastal promenade named after Pierina Dealessi, a street adjacent to the silo, as well as part of Mujeres Argentinas Park.

The entire area is located in Buenos Aires' coastal neighborhood of Puerto Madero. It is a relatively new neighborhood, created through an ambitious plan to revitalize the old and disused seaport that was located there. At the end of the 19th century, the Argentine capital was enriched with a port to provide a means of shipping agricultural products by sea. Unfortunately, the shallow waters of the La Plata estuary and the increasing tonnage of seagoing ships eliminated the port from use as early as the early 20th century. For several decades, the area was subject to degradation, and it was not until the 1980s that vigorous revitalization efforts began. The current neighborhood is one of the most exclusive in Buenos Aires. The silo is one of the last outposts of this history, which has not yet been renovated and adapted to its new function," a student at the Wroclaw University of Technology explains of the district's history.

Projekt „Centreje”, aksonometria  Projekt „Centreje”, rzuty i przekrój

The project is not only to introduce new functions to the interior of the silo, but also to develop the surrounding area

© Przemyslaw Ruta

new center

The plot with the newly designed building is located in the center of the intersection of two extremely important urban axes of Buenos Aires.

The first, a major axis of citywide importance, connects the National Congress, the presidential headquarters "Casa Rosada", a nature reserve and the largest green areas in the city to the ocean. The silo on it is a kind of barrier between the city and nature. The second local axis binds the Puetro Madero district with a service boulevard finished on both sides with modern skyscrapers. Such a location obliges, determines the stature of the building, as well as the utility profile of the building, which must respond not only to the needs of the local Puerto Madero community, but also to the residents of the capital and the multitude of tourists visiting this part of the city," describes Przemyslaw Ruta.

The continuation of the city's main axis, as well as the axes themselves, were therefore key elements accompanying the author at every stage of the project. Due to the historic nature of the silo in the project, it was important to highlight it, emphasize the identity of the place and give it a new function, meeting the requirements of diverse users and creating a neighborhood center.

 Kolumnada i główne wejście do Centrum Projekt „Centreje”, wnętrze silosu

Light plays an important role in the project

© Przemyslaw Ruta


Polak's entire concept, both the site and the silo building, can be divided into four zones. The first of these is the square in front of the silo, which has been transformed into a kind of neighborhood market. On it the author proposed two service pavilions, referring to the lump of the danwego building. The second element is a recessed, interactive square. It was created by removing part of the underground parking lots, which were located under the silo. From the plaza one can walk under Manso Juana Street to Mujeres Argentinas Park. Thanks to this solution, the Cultural Center building is not a blockade of the main urban axis, but a kind of stop on this road.

Projekt „Centreje”, elewacja wschodnia i południowa

„Centreje” project, east and south elevations

© Przemyslaw Ruta

The third element is the silos themselves, exposed and arranged as exhibition spaces, complemented by a glazed superstructure with multifunctional use. The superstructure meets the need for additional spaces that could not be arranged in the silos themselves without destroying their circular body. The superstructure relates to the harbor character of the site. Cross-bracing and support in only two places (used in the tower structure and one of the walls), according to the author, can resemble a kind of bridge, or port device. The whole is softened with milky façade glass, combining industrial character with art.

Przestrzeń wielofunkcyjna nad silosem

multifunctional space above the silo

© Przemyslaw Ruta

Due to the demanding structure, I had to approach ecology in a slightly different way — using wooden structures was practically impossible. I considered the mere preservation of the largest number of existing elements as an ecological aspect, designing in the trend of reuse," adds the young architect.

The mural made by Barbara Krugel, which was supposed to be only temporary, was removed in the new concept, thus revealing the shape of the silo. For the author, the projection in the form of an "artistic-technical-industrial composition of circles" was extremely important. The site also features a space formed by a colonnade with a "secret garden."

Projekt Centreje

The whole is softened with milky façade glass, combining industrial character with superstructure

© Przemyslaw Ruta

appreciation of post-industrial architecture

„Centreje” is at the same time a project seeking answers to questions about the identity of the place, the integrative role of architecture and the new functions of historic buildings. It is an attempt to join the trend of transforming industrial architecture into a resident-friendly space, satisfying higher cultural needs. It is counteracting the degradation of post-industrial sites and giving them a new meaning for users. The storage silo turned into „Centreje” becomes a symbol of a new approach to industrial architecture, no longer disfiguring the city but appreciated, respected and worth preserving. As the last surviving old building in the district, it has become a kind of sign of the times of the old and new concept of the functionality of architecture. The project is also a contribution to modern thinking about urban concepts," Przemysław Ruta concludes.

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