Liceo Francés Louis Pasteur's Gymnasium

Calle 86 # 7-40
Daniel Bermúdez Samper, Architect
Jaime Romero, Javier Ruiz, Architects
Liceo Francés Louis Pasteur
Structural Engineer
Sáenz Ruiz Cadena. Ing. Daniel Espinoza
Soil survey
Saenz Ruiz Cadena y Cia.
Water and sanitary installation
Plinco S.A.
Electrical and telephone installation
Fernando Acosta & Asociados
Construction Company
Sadeico S.A. (Concrete Structure) Proacero (Metal Structure) 


The Liceo Frances Luis Pasteur is settled on a 1.5 Hectares (3.7 Acres) site since 1948, at the heart of a traditional residential neighborhood known as La Cabrera, in Bogota’s Northeast. With a student population currently bordering in 1900, and an increase in the overall population in the area (brought about by the construction of tall buildings of high number of residential units), the school decides, however, to remain within its original historic campus as established on its Master Plan of 1989.

The Gymnasium is a key element of such Master Plan. It takes advantage of the site’s steep slopes, and simultaneously helps in establishing a smooth link between institutional and residential activities.

Adjacent to the proposed building, to the east, we find the existing preschool building (projected by fellow revered Colombian architect Fernando Martinez Sanabria). With such a neighbor (and its occupants), the new Gymnasium entertains two approaches: For one part, the building is partially underground and does not block neither the view to the west, nor the natural sunlight. For another, the Gymnasium’s roof level matches the preschool’s ground floor, therefore offering a wide open-air playground for the children.

On its south side, the building borders with the ever-crowded Calle 86. The Gymnasium’s response to the intense traffic and congestion typically associated with the area consists in receding its façade to give way to a service driveway running parallel to the main roadway. The south elevation displays generous windows and a transparent canopy-like roof, allowing passers-by to witness the activities held inside the building. On the southwestern corner, the façade adopts a curve on its shape, generating an entrance, and a sheltered walkway stretching along the entire perimeter of the Gymnasium, and leading to the various departments within the Lyceum.

Since the building is partially buried underground, and it sports a rooftop playground, the net site area is therefore given back to the school as a fully usable surface. This approach brings along sunlight and ventilation challenges, which are masterfully resolved with the incorporation of operable windows, skylights and translucent roof elements.

Even though a variety of activities happen at the roof, its structure is, however, lean and apparently suspended over the multi-sport court, stretching along spans of 98’ by 60’. A 110’ long, 30’ high retaining wall shapes the main space on its west side. The wall is fastened into the soil by an anchoring system whose exposed steel plates are arranged in a rhythmic pattern along its surface. The retaining wall is only briefly interrupted by a triangular opening, which brings in natural sunlight through a pyramid-shaped skylight.