Architectural Classics: SOMISA Building / Mario Roberto Álvarez & Associates
The Teniente General Castiñeiras building stands on a triangular lot in the heart of Buenos Aires, one of the symbols of the city’s modern architecture. Better known as the SOMISA building, its origin was the result of a design competition for the design of the new headquarters of the Sociedad Mixta Siderúrgica Argentina company. First prize was won by MRA+A, Mario Roberto Álvarez & Associates, and construction began around 1966, with work completed in 1977.
The first building in the world made of folded sheet steel, the SOMISA building, from the morphological continuity of the block, contributes to the urban completion and represents a major technological challenge for the time, having a mixed structure, metal on the upper floors and H °A° in the basement. Through a construction that maximized the use of steel, a column-free floor plan was conceived with a wrap-around load-bearing structure that offered flexibility in reconfiguring the workspaces and manifested the idea of industrialized modulation. Today the building houses the National Cabinet of Ministers.
Authors’ memoirs. The Sociedad Mixta Siderúrgica Argentina headquarters at the corner of Belgrano and Diagonal Roca Avenues was the first all-steel building in Argentina and the first all-welded building in the world. Its structural elements, mezzanines, external cladding and internal walls are made entirely of this material, which is the basis of the country’s industry and of which SOMISA was the main producer. A true technological and architectural revolution.
The planned building fully fulfills the purpose of adaptability and flexibility, made possible by the surrounding steel structure, which dispenses with internal supports, the corresponding relocation of the accesses and the zoning of the workplaces.
The building consists of seven basement floors and fourteen upper floors, which house public functions (exhibitions, conferences, cafeteria, etc.), administrative and managerial functions, and finally service and technical rooms.
Both structurally and functionally, the building is divided into two parts. One is buried and built in reinforced concrete to a depth of 24 meters, the other above ground consists of a metal structure with all components being prefabricated and dry assembled elements.
The entire perimeter of the glazed building is treated with thermal panels of heat-resistant glass and a double internal air chamber in a stainless steel frame for optimal thermal and acoustic insulation. The internal dividers are removable steel panels that add to the flexibility of the building including the sanitary facilities. The central air conditioning, electrical, intercom and telephone installation was commissioned with the latest modern technology.
The following necessary functions within the organization have been nucleated and zoned:
- Public Functions: Located on the ground and first basement levels, with covered and uncovered exhibition areas, entrance hall, conference room, committee room, cafeteria and outbuildings.
- Administrative and Executive Work Functions: These are located in the main area on floors 1 through 10 inclusive with the departments of Sales, Purchasing, Finance and Administration, Labor and Public Relations, General Management, Presidency and Board of Directors.
- General service functions: These are divided into two groups, those located on the 2nd to 7th floors inclusive, where the parking lots, general storage rooms, air conditioning, machine rooms, ventilation, electrical controls, maintenance panels, etc. are located and these are located are on each floor on the upper floors, where the changing rooms, toilets, floor offices, archives, etc. of the respective department are located in addition to the entrances to the employee elevators.
Two sets of vertical circulations were designed to form the axis of the composition, allowing the public to move independently of clerks and hierarchical collaborators. The elevator batteries have been combined into a single core to allow all elevators to be used at peak times.
Project: MRA+A | Mario Roberto Alvarez & Associates
Alvarez, Kopiloff, Santoro, Gentile, Rivanera, Satow, D’Huicque
Location: Diagonal Sur esq. A V. Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina
land area: 1,892 sqm
Total building area: 39,768 sqm
Current owner: nation state