The private institution of EAFIT University has occupied the east bank of the Medellin, the river that divides the city, since the 1970s. Because of the constraints of the passing Autopista Regional and metro, the campus has grown hermetically. On its isolated campus, a series of landscaped environments have been developed in response to poor surrounding conditions. The rector of the university wanted these parks to become places of interaction and act as an extension of learning spaces.
When Argos, a concrete company, agreed to collaborate with EAFIT to create a new innovation laboratory on campus, the ensuing competition called for a building that would highlight the innovative use of concrete within the materiality of the project - containing invention and revealing innovation within its fabric. The use of architecture to showcase this singular material was not only a clever move on behalf of the concrete company, it also proved inspiring for Lorenzo Castro, the appointed architect.
Through its Innovation Centre, Argos wanted to create a meeting place for the challenges of the cement and concrete industry and academic solutions, stimulating the discovery of new uses of these materials that could be key to development. The company invested COP 25 billion to build the centre, and COP 5 million to equip its laboratories. The centre covers 4807 m2 of gross floor area, distributed over 6 floors with 12 laboratories and close to 60 workstations. 63% of the concrete used for its construction corresponds to some of the company's value-added products, such as coloured concrete, high-strength concrete, permeable concrete, industrial flooring concrete and self-consolidating concrete.
The efficient use of non-renewable resources at the Argos Innovation Centre was one of the fundamental principles used for its design and construction, which was undertaken in compliance with the LEED parameters. 30% of the first-floor surface is green space, reducing the heat island effect in the area. Also, the building takes advantage of natural light and uses technological devices that reduce energy consumption by more than 44%. Finally, it collects rainwater in order to reuse it, replacing nearly 72% of its demand for drinking water.