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Edificio Cruz del Sur by Izquierdo Lehmann Arquitectos 07.07.10

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The entrance to the tower is underground (image: Cristobal Palma)

The idea behind Edificio Cruz del Sur's arrowhead shape was "to liberate the ground", say its designers, Izquierdo Lehmann Arquitectos. The tower sits at a busy corner in central Santiago de Chile. "It's an important point in the city, but it's not a good pedestrian area," says Luis Izquierdo.

Only the central core touches the ground, with all 18 storeys raised up on diagonal struts. This creates a small plaza, and much needed breathing space directly above Santiago's busiest metro station. Structurally, these buttresses remove a need for columns in the interiors. On top of that, the tapering shape increases the floor space the higher you go, making this one very lucrative office building.

The design is also aimed at withstanding huge seismic activity, like the 8.8 earthquake that rocked Chile in February. The symmetry of the square floor plans arranged around a central core reduces the risk of torsion if a quake strikes.

The visual effect is slightly uncanny – familiar, yet strange. It looks like a cross between one of Richard Seifert's London office towers and Ernesto Rogers' infamous Torre Velasca in Milan, with its medieval-style buttresses. Izquierdo laughs at the Velasca comparison. "I always thought that was a strange building – it's not beautiful!"

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Justin McGuirk

quotes story

Only the central core touches the ground, with all 18 storeys raised up on diagonal struts

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