New cultural center in the works for Chile’s capital

Santiago’s Lo Barnechea neighborhood is constructing a Traditions Cultural and Educational Center that will open its doors to the public free of charge in early 2013. 

In the Santiago neighborhood of Lo Barnechea, the past and present feel of the district will come together in the new Traditions Cultural and Educational Center (Centro Cultural y Educacional de las Tradiciones), scheduled to open its doors in early 2013. The construction will reflect the mix of eras visible in the Lo Barnechea neighborhood, with its antique mansions alongside new, modern buildings.
The center’s contemporary feel juxtaposes its mission of recovering the varied folkloric and traditional roots of this diverse community. To achieve its goal of saving traditional knowledge and practices, the center will include rehearsal rooms to provide practice space for local neighborhood folkloric groups.
Lo Barnechea boasts 14 traditional folkloric groups that are currently without a central practice space, a problem the Traditions Cultural and Educational Center will address.
Also planned for the four-story, 1,435 square-meter space are rooms to house workshops focusing on traditional cooking, dancing and Chilean literature and music, all of which will be aimed at the some 6,000 students attending schools in the district. The municipality and the Corporación Cultural de Lo Barnechea collaborated on seeing the project – which will include storage areas, dressing rooms, a café and a patio – come to full fruition.
Lo Barnechea is in the unique position of being a young neighborhood that has experienced a relatively recent explosion in its population, and the sector has not developed many of the cultural and public spaces older communities in Santiago possess. One highlight of the new center will be the theater located on a semi-underground level, where documentaries and films will be shown and concerts held. The planned space will be aesthetically striking, with a closed roof, walls open to the sidewalk and stands that also serve as steps. Architecturally, this theater space was envisioned by architect Gonzalo Mardones through reflections on the local landscape, such as the central columns fashioned after trees in the native forest section of Lo Barnechea’s Nature Sanctuary.
A dry run of the center is planned for summer 2013, when local students will be the first to take advantage of all that the center has to offer. Donations for construction and operation from governmental educational funds, the Anglo American mining company and municipal funds will make it possible for the center to open its doors to the public free of charge.