Environmental Design Consultancy

Criminalistics Laboratories National Headquarters (2013)
Total area: 13,700 m²
Architects: Crisosto Arquitectos
Studies developed as part of Estudio Diav.

The Criminalistics Laboratories National Headquarters is a 13,700m² new construction, housing laboratories, offices, and other investigative police programs, on the outskirts of Santiago. It sits as three compact 7 and 3 storey blocks, where interior space is highly partitioned.


The main challenge of this project was to overlap the client's requirements with regards to image with the very strict internal conditions defined by regulations for such a program. Highly glazed simple facade, facing east and west mainly, made for very large cooling loads, and visual problems. Additionally, the rough exterior environment -with high levels of air pollution, bad both for people and the highly sophisticated equipment- made passive strategies such as natural ventilation unfeasible.  


As a general strategy, we proposed a highly controlled indoors environment, where the main concern would be to deal with excessive solar gains. Initial facade design proposed the use of highly tinted, reflective glazing, darkening interiors, and an outer lightweight structure aimed at providing visual unity for the whole complex. We proposed a design which turned the structure into an outer layer of shading devices of different levels of transparency, that worked to protect both east and west facades. Additionally, this provided a better sense of security and privacy inherent to the program, without the need of darker glazing.  The north facade, also the main face of the building, was kept clear and totally glazed, with minor added overhangs, as was the initial conceptual design.


We also proposed several types of building envelope, accordying to the changing needs of both clients and architects.


We simulated and tested the strategies to fine-tune the design, and later provided power requirements and operative loads to HVAC engineers.