The sheep farms of Patagonia were the inspiration for this hotel. Not the traditional “estancias”, the warm houses closed to the outside world, but the splendid sheep pens and barns where the business of everyday life goes on in Patagonia - like the drying of sheep hides and other jobs done inside, out of the wind and cold.
Other Patagonian features - the endless wire fences, the shelters for the work dogs, etc. - are also recalled.
The plaza, an empty central court, brings the vast wilderness of Patagonia into the heart of the hotel. Two buildings for guest rooms face each other on opposite sides of the court, while the main communal body of the hotel is housed in a slightly taller block, set back from the others. The court itself is empty except for a few boulders. Like a forest clearing that makes you aware of the trees, it evokes both the natural landscape beyond, and man’s indomitable ability to adapt his lifestyle in Patagonia. It invites guests to venture from the warmth of the hotel into the world outside, braving the cold and wind in the knowledge that they can return to the warmth and security of creature comforts.
Life in Latin America places man in a more direct relationship with nature without the mediation of roads, towns or cities, as has been the case in Europe since the Middle Ages. Latin America has an ancient tradition of architectures in the midst of natural surrounds: signs of man’s presence, where shepherds and merchants pass the night or where ancient rites are occasionally performed. Today this culture helps the modern traveller from the big cities achieve a genuine return to nature, for travel is an opportunity to explore the world around us, like children.
For me, architecture is neither the shape of a building nor the materials used. It is about filling an empty space with objects, which in turn triggers thoughts and sensations in the ‘empty space’ of our minds.
From a distance, Remota appears as a warm, welcoming homestead on the vast Patagonian plain, a cluster of warm yellow lights at night and dawn. Its workaday exterior conceals refinements that are only glimpsed through a series of vertical glazed openings. In this way the luxurious interior is a welcome, unexpected surprise.
The outside walls are broken by a continuous sequence of vertical windowpanes. We used a concrete structure of pillars, slabs and interior walls to ensure privacy and fireproofing. Infills are waterproof plywood panels with an expanded polyurethane insulating core. The panels are clad with a protective synthetic asphalt membrane.The natural grasses of the Patagonian plains are left to grow wild all around.
Similar to the boulders in the central court that bring the surrounding landscape into the hotel, so too the roof is part of its environment: the concrete roof slabs, coated with the same synthetic asphalt membrane, have a 60 cm high carpet of wild grass growing on it. Three wooden corridors cross the court connecting the three buildings. Two are covered; the third, leading to the swimming pool and sauna, has been left open. The court is bounded by the low corridor walls while the straight line of the roofs creates an enclosure, in stark contrast to the vast world beyond. Architecture and interiors are inseparable. The changing light of Patagonia penetrates the glazed vertical slits, enveloping the large concrete and wood pillars and sliding along the wooden trelliswork hung from the ceiling. It picks up the brilliant colours of the fabrics on the sturdy, Spartan, dark wood furniture. Made by local craftsmen from dead branches and trunks of the lenga forests that still thrive in the lowlands near the sea, each piece of furniture is an individual work of craftsmanship, not part of an industrial design project. Wood is everywhere: tables and benches, bedsteads and beams, floor-to-ceiling partitions separating and soundproofing the bathrooms from the rest of the suite.
Special construction techniques were used. Pillars and roof were constructed first to shelter the workers from the elements. Then the structure was enclosed in the easy-to-install industrial plywood panels. Next came the rolls of asphalt membrane, after which the glass was inserted: a sequence that required several different teams working simultaneously.
Remota has numerous energy saving features. Although catering for the refined traveller, the place has done away with everything superfluous, not just for environmental safeguard reasons but as part of the liberating experience it wants to offer. In the words of a Chilean poet, it’s not the light you switch on in the evening but the light you switch off that imprints its memory. Remota uses low-energy bulbs with yellow light for enhanced colour quality. Bathroom sanitary ware and laundry equipment are low water-consumption models, while good insulation and building orientation make for passive energy gains. The energy-saving heating system is paralleled by the installation of special UV-shield glazing.
Our aim is to mesh the natural landscape with the culture of the place, offering guests an unforgettable experience. We overcame the challenges thanks to the skill, dedication and passion of those who helped to build the place. As the outward appearance of the hotel illustrates, we had to accept the unexpected, which may well be better than expected.
Germán del Sol
|< Prev||Next >|