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Tierra Patagonia Hotel Harmony of Architecture and Nature

Cazú Zegers Arquitectura

Tierra Patagonia Hotel Harmony of Architecture and Nature
By Caterina Testa -

On the south-east edge of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, the Paine mountain range forms a spectacular backdrop to the flat landscape comprising Lake Sarmiento, dunes and immense barren stretches. Here, nature is king. The only sounds are the wind and lapping of water. It was here that Chilean architecture firm Cazú Zegers was commissioned to design a hotel for excursionists to the Park.

The first, all-important issue was how to build something that would not intrude, much less be an eyesore, in this powerful, completely uncontaminated setting. The architects found the answer in the landscape itself. Sketch after sketch, draft after draft, the building took shape as a dune stretching parallel to the lakeside, a sandy mound seemingly created by the sweeping wind.

Lying horizontal like plain and lake, this manmade object stretches in a long hollow apparently carved out of the sand by the wind. Access is via transversal cuts made into the rocky dune. Partly underground for greater concealment, the building is further camouflaged by washed Lenga wood panels cladding every inch of roof and walls.

The linear programme is curved at each end. To the south-west the building opens out onto the lake while access routes are at the south-east end. The main entrance comprises a long path taking visitors gradually from the immense outdoor space into the cozy interiors, first by way of a descending ramp to a reception and services volume, then to a little patio, and finally to the large hall where a picture window looks out onto the Paine mountain range.

On the western end facing the lake are set the spa and the swimming pool facilities. The guest rooms are regularly arranged on two stories along a double-height corridor running from the entrance at one end of the building to the spa at the other. Walkways set tangentially to the main corridor lead to private areas.

The muted matt outer timber shell...

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