Heatherwick Studio Unveils Designs for Colorful Campus in Bogotá

The facade of the Universidad Ean will feature handwoven details inspired by local craft practices.

Design
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Heatherwick Studio has revealed its designs for a new school and makers space for a university in central Bogotá.

The new campus – part of the Universidad Ean in Colombia – will rise up seven levels, providing plenty of space for the students enrolled at the school of sustainable design.

From street level, it will be instantly recognisable thanks to a colorful facade design made up of woven columns and open terraces. This part of the building in particular has been inspired by local craft traditions, and will incorporate a technique known as Werregue basketry – a form of weaving unique to Colombia’s Wounaan indigenous community.

“Creativity is intrinsic to the city of Bogotá. You see it everywhere,” said Eliot Postma, group leader and partner at Heatherwick Studio. “We want students to feel proud of their campus before they even enter the building, arriving through a public square that offers passers-by a welcoming communal oasis amidst the hard urban surroundings.”

As well as looking to local craft practices, the studio was inspired by Colombia’s biodiversity, as well as Bogotá’s credentials when it comes to leading the conversation on sustainable developmonet. Across the facade, a biophilic approach has been taken, with local plant species incorporated on the open terraces.

When unveiled on the studio’s Instagram account last week, the design was met with a mixed reception.

“It really looks like it was AI generated with keywords “colour, oversized, maximalist, exaggerated, pastiche,” one commentor said. However, a current employee responded to criticism by commenting on the post: “I am a Colombian architect working at Heatherwick Studio on this fantastic project. As Colombians – our artisanship, craft, colour, folklore, biodiversity, and joyful people are just some of the many important characteristics of our culture.”

She continues: “We believe that this new building will cluster all these core ideas in a building that is open to all Colombians. We want to attract people, animals, plants, and more to be part of this new story. We have enjoyed being in Bogota, working on the site and directly with the client, and we’re very excited about the future.”

The new campus for Universidad Ean will be Heatherwick Studio’s first project to go to construction in South America, with works expected to start in 2025.

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