Inaugurated in May 2019, the modern Alto las Monjas apartment residences in Concepción, Chile, were constructed on a site with a high groundwater level. Penetron crystalline technology solved the challenge by permanently waterproofing the concrete structures exposed to moisture in the ground.
Located in the Zona Centro Sur (Central South Zone), the geographic center of the country, Concepción is about 500 km (310 miles) southwest of Santiago. Part of Chile’s second largest city (945,650 inhabitants) and the country's most heavily industrialized region, it is situated on the Pacific coast and has a population of 230,000.
Located in the affluent Lomas de San Andres neighborhood of Concepción, the Edificio Alto las Monjas is an upscale residential development with 132 apartments in four buildings, each five stories tall. The apartment layouts range from 36-84 m2 (388-905 square feet), offering either one, two or three bedrooms. The four buildings are arranged in a square around a central plaza containing a swimming pool, a playground with swing set, an outdoor gym, shaded picnic areas and access to an indoor gym and multiple-use rooms. The development also features two levels of above- and below-grade auto and bicycle parking.
An asphalt membrane was originally specified as the waterproofing solution for the Edificio Alto las Monjas project to counter the challenges of a high groundwater level at the site and the resulting saturated soil, typical for construction almost anywhere in Concepción. However, before construction began, Penetron Chile was asked about the performance and costs of using a crystalline admixture instead.
“Once we got in front of the project managers, the change in specification occurred rather quickly. We showed them how PENETRON ADMIX would eliminate their concerns associated with the membrane installation process and, without any extra effort in the concrete mix-and-pour phase, the PENETRON ADMIX-treated concrete itself would become the waterproofing and protection barrier – with the added benefit of avoiding future maintenance issues. They were very enthusiastic,” explains Domingo Lema, Managing Director of Penetron Chile. “Another point in favor of our integral waterproofing solution was the comprehensive permeability reduction in the concrete and a permanent crack-sealing capability provided by PENETRON ADMIX.”
Society Petreos, the local ready-mix supplier, added PENETRON ADMIX to the concrete used for the below-grade basement walls and the foundation slabs. Over 2,100 m3 of concrete were treated.
“Because water and waterborne contaminants penetrate concrete mainly through capillary absorption and hydrostatic pressure, solving this problem demands an integral solution that works on a molecular level,” adds Domingo Lema.
The active ingredients in PENETRON ADMIX produce a catalytic reaction with the moisture in fresh concrete. This chemical reaction generates a non-soluble crystalline formation throughout the pores and capillary tracts of the concrete that permanently seals microcracks, pores and capillaries against the penetration of water or liquids from any direction. This provides long-term protection from deterioration, even under the moist environmental conditions in Concepción.