2017-07-26 / News

Perfectly insulated and earthquake proof in Chile

The German Embassy in Santiago de Chile, built in 1944 in the Neoclassicist style, is located in a seismographically highly active area at acute risk of earthquakes. A decision was taken as long ago as 2008 to evacuate the building on safety grounds. A wise move, as a serious earthquake in 2010 caused heavy damage to a large number of buildings in the city, which has a population of six million. During a one-year renovation project in 2014/2015 a general renovation and earth proofing process was carried out on the building and its façade, which are protected as an ensemble by a preservation order. (cf. Yearbook Building and Planning 2015/16 by the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning).
Frontal view of the residence of the German Embassy, ChileBild: © BBR/Christian Hagemann, Berlin

The climate in Santiago de Chile is comparable to the Mediterranean area and is generally dry, although subject to abrupt changes of temperature. High temperatures prevail in the summer months, while winters can be cool. A main aspect of consideration during the renovation, alongside earthquake proofing, was bringing about a sustainable improvement to the energy balance. The planners hoped to achieve this primarily by installing new wooden windows with low UW values.

The window construction firm commissioned for the job LIP GmbH chose insulated glazing units from the manufacturer Nowak Glas with Thermix warm / cold edges and muntin bars. By utilizing the cooler temperatures at night in combination with sun protection by means of traditional shutters, this allowed the designers to completely eliminate the need for mechanical air conditioning of the building.

In September 2015, just under two weeks after the handover date, an earthquake reaching 8.2 on the scale put the building to a practical test, which it survived safely and without damage.