A Self Portrait: "The Embassy of Chile"

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Virginia Tech

Washington D.C. is a city of multicultural richness difficult to surpass. The huge diversity of languages, cultures, and people found in the city are the bases of its identity. Countless diplomatic missions, international organizations and agencies are a dramatic proof that Washington D.C. is currently the center of the world, the Rome of modern times. To this extent, each country that holds a diplomatic mission strives to make its representation, its presence to the host country, as good as possible. With this in mind, architecture is provided with a great opportunity to showcase the spirit of each country through the buildings that represent them, their embassies.

The desire that sparked the idea of making a thesis about the Embassy of Chile may be traced to the experience of being a foreigner, a Chilean, living in Washington D.C. In the same manner that a person may represent its country, an embassy building gives the opportunity to express and show a lot of what that country is about; it has the potential of becoming a symbol for it. Although this may seem a very straightforward theme, it's actually very broad, and may be regarded in a number of ways. How do we represent Chile? What do we show? What don't we want to show? How do we express it? And even how can we define Chile. These were questions that had to be addressed before even thinking about designing the embassy.

In order to this, the concept that had to be adopted had to be capable of handling this selective process. It's a process in which the person doing the representation also takes part in it. In other words, it's a process by which you are presenting yourself. Through research done at this stage of the thesis, the best way to describe the procedure was by making a Self Portrait. By adopting this concept we were given the possibility to create our own image of what Chile was, and to reveal and conceal whatever we thought was appropriate.

diplomacy, laser cut panels, ductal, symbol, representation