ONE OF THE MOST ADVANCED EVENT CENTRES IN SOUTH AMERICA OPENS IN BOGOTÁ, WORK OF ESTUDIO HERREROS + BERMÚDEZ ARQUITECTOS
Ágora-Bogotá measures 64.883m2, and brings a public space of 12.000m2 to the city. It has a natural ventilation system that adapts to the local climate, flexible rooms that that can accommodate up to 4,000 people, and an approach to architecture and technology that has already become a benchmark in design, innovation, sustainability and functionality.
Officially opened in early 2018, Ágora-Bogotá, is one of the most advanced events centres in the world. Created by the Spanish firm Estudio Herreros together with Bermúdez Arquitectos, it is already considered a symbol of New Columbia.
Its vertically stacked structure allows the necessary compactness for generous public spaces around the outside. Naturally lit, acoustically tight and ventilated via an active covering, the building features enormous flexibility thanks to its excellent technical and structural qualities. The sober materials – continuous simulated stone paving, transparent celling made of industrial netting, glass wall panels, and panels of recycled concrete – ensures that the building never overwhelms the user. It is formed by four large vertical nuclei and service and technical areas that are flexible to accommodate diverse programmes and events.
Ágora-Bogotá is the result of an international competition in 2011 that attracted a hundred of the most important international architecture firms, such as BIG, Zaha Hadid and Snøhetta. A partnership of two practices, one led by the Spaniard Juan Herreros and the other by the Columbian Daniel Bermúdez was chosen after a rigorous selection process. Their proposal for Ágora-Bogotá is characterised by its singularity; a rational and thoroughly contemporary iconic image that at the same time presents a revision of the traditional convention centre and established logistical and technical implications.
The building marks another chapter in the number of large-scale international projects that have been carried out by the Estudio Herreros under its philosophy of ‘architecture for dialogue,’ which upholds the spirit of teamwork and collaboration; in this case, with the architect Daniel Bermúdez from Bogota and an esteemed team of consultants hailing from various countries.
Estudio Herreros takes great effort to ensure that everything it constructs of this nature should also have a covered, open-to-the-public feature. They did it with the foyer of the MALBA Museum (opened November 2017 in Argentina) and will do the same in the new Munch Museum in Oslo, which will open in 2018.
Ágorá-Bogotá is strategically situated in the geographical heart of the city, halfway between the historic core and the airport. From the beginning, the two architectural practices strived to offer an iconic and easily recognised image, one capable of representing a plural, open society. The practical considerations, such as discreet but efficient service areas, had to instil an environmental sensibility and technical ambition worthy of a structure of this status. Upon entering, you immediately appreciate the seamless circulation, and the layout’s flexibility, which is able to accommodate anything from a concert to a trade fair, congress to film festival, or gala banquet to chess championship.
Juan Herreros has stated said that due to the building’s scale and interior richness, you could almost perceive it as a covered capsule of the city itself. Following this idea, the large foyer functions as a plaza, surrounded by a series of meeting places whose dimensions intentionally coincide with the blocks of the city. From bottom to top, the building unfolds in a spiral of plazas-foyers that in reality are viewing points over the four main sections of the city; the Eastern Hills (Cerros), the historic centre, the savannah and the new development towards the airport. In this way, it becomes a place to contemplate and understand Bogota and its geography. This vertical programme permits an easily recognisable form, and the liberation of public space in its surroundings enhances the city with squares and gardens.
On top, Ágorá-Bogotá will be a future example of clean technology and passive climate control. Air conditioning units and their associated costs were rejected in their entirety for natural ventilation systems that take advantage of the local climate. Daniel Bermúdez, an expert in this field, created a happy symbiosis between the building and the ecosystem it inhabits.
The facade is the key element of the structure. Formed from a base of large frames that are incorporated into the structure itself, the different types of glass, the blackout systems and electronically regulated gills that breathe in the exterior air, act as skin that responds to variable climatic conditions in temperature, sunlight, and humidity. The integration of the building into its environment is thanks to the behaviour of the facade and its commitment to environment, creating a sensibility that affronts the challenges and a common desire for a society that innovates, advances and confidently steps forward into a better future.
This vertical convention centre of 64.883 m2 has the capacity to host 4,000 people in the largest room, which is located on the top floor. Additionally, it has ten salons that can be converted to 18 with moving walls, allowing a capacity of between 18 and 2,000 people. All of these have natural light and ventilation, complemented with ample foyers for any type of set up.
The centre incorporates two floors of parking that can accommodate 1,055 vehicles, 600 bicycles, and 12 spaces for trucks in the loading section. It has 19 lifts and 12 escalators. The main kitchen can manage 2,500 attendees at the same time, and service three satellite kitchens on the upper floors.
ÁGORA-BOGOTÁ in figures
Even in its construction stage, Ágora-Bogotá has acted as a motor for the economy of Bogota and the region because of the sheer size of the project, its exacting design characteristics and the high quantity for materials that the building demanded. It is estimated that the project will have a GDP impact of 1% over the next four years.
These figures give you an idea of its impact on the local economy:
- 134.552 m3 of land were excavated for the project.
- 59.558 m3 of concrete was used.
- 4.122 tones of steel were needed.
- 437 kms of electric cable was installed for electricity, fibre optics, Internet and telephones.
- 16.470 m2 of glass was used on the facade.
- 95.500 m3 per hour is the speed of air that circulates in the building’s natural ventilation system.
- 56 m3 of filtered and stored rainwater is the capacity of the water system that is employed in the bathrooms of the building.
About Estudio Herreros and Bermúdez Arquitectos
Estudio Herreros is a Madrid-based architecture practice founded by Juan Herreros and Jens Richter. It operates globally on highly varied scales and programs for both public and private clients, and has been internationally recognised for its advanced character and commitment to modern day challenges. Its well-known slogan, “Architecture for Dialogue”, is fundamental to the studio’s projects around the world, which are always carried out in association with prestigious local firms. Their work has received many prizes and exhibited in MOMA and the architecture biennales in Venice, Istanbul and South America.
Bermúdez Arquitectos was founded 34 years ago by Daniel Bermúdez. The studio’s work is marked by a coexistence of traditional ethical principles, technical postures and the aesthetic innovation. Major works include the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Cultural Centre and the Tintal Public Library, both in Bogota. He is currently working on the new architecture faculty at the University of the Andes and the Transición ET-CAN in Bogota. The firm’s productive trajectory has been celebrated in important national and international publications and received many prizes and accolades.