Torre Telefónica, Chile

Featured Image Source: Klausiee, Under Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/67265350@N02/13065335443/

The Torre Telefónica is one of the most striking skyscrapers in Santiago. It stands on the Avenue Providencia in central Santiago. The avenue follows the path of the Mapocho River which is one of the rivers that flows through the city.

The building was designed by the architectural firm Iglesis Prat Arquitectos. The building is the 6th tallest building in chile at 132 meters high. Construction started in 1993 and the building was completed in 1996 at a cost of around 75 million US dollars.

The building is home to Moviestar Communications an important cell phone provider in South America. The building is constructed mainly of glass and steel and is in many ways a classic skyscraper.

There is, however, one way in which it deviates from the norm. It was designed to look like a mobile cell phone of its day.

Nokia_Mobile_Phone.jpeg
Source: User:Jjborcean, Under Creative Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_Mobile_Phone.jpeg

For example this Nokia phone. The building can be split into three distinct parts. The first is a smaller office building on the East side of the main tower. This smaller block has about 6 floors and is connected on all levels to the main tower. The windows are long and thin and the structure is much more closed off.

The second part is the main tower. The most striking detail of the main tower is its glass facade. The large glass facade is held up by a diamond structured steel frame. About 2/3’s of the way up there is a jump in the facade where the East side moves out a bit and creates an overhang.

The third part is the cell phone antenna. This is the tallest part of the tower. It is also the part of the tower that most clearly refers to the cell phones of the early 90’s.

Telefónica_con_bandera
Source: Carlos yo, Under GNU Free Documentation License, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Telef%C3%B3nica_con_bandera.jpg

The tower has been ridiculed as being a through back to the 90’s. It has also been said that the architects and the company failed to see the rapid growth in cell phone design that we’ve seen in the last 20 years.

Never the less, the tower remains an icon for the city and is still a very interesting tower. It can be seen as one of the more overt attempts and ‘architectifing’  popular culture without thinking about the ramifications during the buildings lifetime. It is a good lesson for all architects to learn about how fast technology moves and how long a building stands.


Sources: weburbanistatlasobscuraWikipedia (Tallest buildings in Chile)Wikipedia (Torre Telefónica)Wikipedia (Santiago)

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