Environmental Design Consultancy

San Sebastian University, Los Leones Campus (2011-2012)
Total area: 10,208 m²
Architects: C. Boza Arquitectos
Studies developed as part of Estudio Diav.

This is a new campus for Universidad San Sebastian, located in Santiago de Chile. The university is building a new campus within an old Catholic convent. The site has heritage relevance.


This project -part retrofit, part new construction- includes a large number of classrooms, distributed into two four-storey buildings,  on opposing edges of a central courtyard, and connected to it by semi-exterior galleries. The longitudinal axis of these buildings runs north to south, making the majority of its facade surface very vulnerable to morning and afternoon low angle radiation. The design contemplated a double skin facade. The courtyard hides a number of laboratories and car park stories underneath.


The classrooms presented the greater challenge in terms of habitability. There were issues not only of overheating in summer and mid-season, but of condensation during the cold season. These mainly due to the very high occupation density, and lack of HVAC systems as requested by the client. Additionally, the initial facade and building envelope design helped to enhance these issues.


We evaluated the architectural design with respect to the feasibility of passive strategies application to ensure quality of habitability. We proposed a ventilated facade design which reduced the size of all openings on the inner layer of the facade, controling solar gains, and providing thermal mass to the interiors, which had been initially considered to be completely lightweight. The design of the facade's outer layer was proposed as a semi-transparent buffer to avoid direct sunlight penetration into the classrooms, aiding in daylight distribution.


The strategies were simulated and tested to fine-tune their design and aid the architects. To make up for the lack of HVAC systems and to deal with the remaining cooling loads, we evaluated and designed renewable energy source strategies. We thought the large number undeground carpark offered an opportunity for underground cooling at no great further costs to the initial investment.