CINVA – Center Design

Leonard Currie was one of CINVA’s pioneers. He was fully on board with the institution since its early days. He was involved from when the Center’s building was designed, to the point where it was later built. The March 1957 issue of Architectural Record Magazine included Currie’s thoughts on the Center’s design.

During the design phase of the Center, no problems were encountered. It was designed by architects from diverse backgrounds, which gave the Center an international style. CINVA’s goal was to solve low-cost housing problems by constructing modest, economical, and durable homes. Therefore, the designers deemed it appropriate that the CINVA Center was to resemble this ideal. No design clichés were allowed. The design was made using economical and durable materials, and it avoided anything that looked ostentatious (Currie, Leonard).

The Center’s site on the National University of Bogota was a spread out, one story building with a laboratory for construction and a mezzanine-based library. The Center’s design was also influenced by the local climate. Colombia is considered a cold climate region where the sun is shining everywhere almost all year round. Therefore, the Center was built with many windows and a series of patios. Windows allow natural light to illuminate the inside of the building and at the same time protect the interior from rain. Patios are very common in Latin American architecture since the weather is enjoyable and they provide space for people to enjoy the outdoors in private. Patios are also known to connect different buildings together. Due to the occasional rain Colombia experiences, the connections created from area to area were covered as well as the entrance pergola, as seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Entrance Pergola

Due to the rain, roof leaks are common; thus, the roof was built as simple as possible out of wood fiber ceiling planks and corrugated cement asbestos. This material allowed the easy repair of leaks. For the walls, Colombian-produced bricks were used on the exterior and rough plaster for the interior. These materials required little to no maintenance and were very inexpensive, thus going hand in hand with CINVA’s principles. Finally, only windows and doors were painted, everything else was left as built (Currie, Leonard).

The construction laboratory was known for the Gunite thin-concrete-made roof, described with “rational form” and “practical structure.” The laboratory roof was a successful aesthetically pleasing experimental design, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Construction Lab

Compared to more modern, new buildings, the simplicity of the CINVA building has been categorized as “old shoe” architecture. However, Currie countered this by saying:

“It fits its wearers with comfort, and it is quite unconcerned with modishness”

– Leonard Currie