Completed in 2022 by Máximo Bertoia, the Botanic LAB is an educational building on the outskirts of La Plata, Argentina, that aims to combine cultural, scientific, and educational activities into a sustainable and effective infrastructure. The building is designed on a symmetrical plan, featuring a triple-height public plaza and an interior spiral stair that controls different levels of privacy, while the exterior one invites people to enter the greenhouse. The project seeks to redefine the relationship between production and education, combining meccano-like structural elements, polycarbonate, and aluminum sheets to create a simple rectangular prism that emphasizes the horizontality of its landscape.
Botanic LAB Technical Information
- Architects: Máximo Bertoia
- Location:La Plata, Argentina – -35.011102, -58.025064
- Topics: Educational/Research
- Area: 4000 m2
- Project Year: 2022
- Renders: © Máximo Bertoia
This new building attempts to develop a different idea for contemporary education, where the ambition is to reach the correct balance between society, nature, education and production.
– Máximo Bertoia
Botanic LAB Photographs
Text by the Architects
The Botanic LAB is a proposed educational building located on the outskirts of La Plata, Argentina, a key area for vegetable production and supply to over 3 million people. Taking inspiration from the greenhouses that dominate the landscape of the rural area, the project seeks to redefine the relationship between production and education. Meccano-like structural elements and polycarbonate and aluminum facade sheets are used to create a three-dimensional grid that can be assembled and disassembled, reflecting the surrounding landscape or appearing transparent depending on the sun’s position.
The symmetrical plan of the building is based on a rigorous 3×3-meter grid, resulting in a simple rectangular prism that accentuates the landscape’s horizontality. The design combines cultural, scientific, and educational programs in a compact volume to create a sustainable and effective infrastructure that serves as both an educational tool and a source of biodiversity.
To encourage movement, the program is divided into different levels. A triple-height public plaza serves as the starting point, linking different activities along a long platform that stretches through the big internal void. The greenhouse structures the rest of the lab’s activities, with public activities on the ground and first floors and research and experimentation on the second level. An interior spiral stair controls different levels of privacy, while an exterior stair invites visitors into the greenhouse. The walkway connecting the two stairs allows researchers to observe the vegetation from three different viewpoints, facilitating encounters between different users and centering vegetation both physically and symbolically.
The exterior layer of the building appears simple and plain, in contrast to the complex world it protects, functioning as a metaphor for the animal body, where the skin creates an ideal condition for the systems inside. The mechanical system allows for modification of variables such as air humidity and temperature to achieve the desired environment for agricultural experimentation, while automatic windows at the roof and ground level of the facade provide crossed ventilation. The v-shaped roof collects rainwater for the pressured irrigation system, which consists of a big tank and 18 hoses with sprinklers to moisten the environment. The transparent facade is coupled with big shutters that can lower the temperature by reducing the amount of UV radiation.
The Botanic LAB represents a new approach to contemporary education, with a focus on achieving a balance between society, nature, education, and production. Each element of the design integrates into a unified system, revealing the project’s technical essence.