Wood in architecture
Pisco Elqui || Chile
Chile’s narrow Elqui Valley is a thin stretch of land between the Andes and a coastal mountain chain. The landscape, its natural colours, unpolluted skies and mild climate make it an ideal place for winegrowing, astronomy and peaceful contemplation.
In operation for ten years, the Elqui Domos hotel recently decided to make over and enlarge its premises. Designed by Rodrigo Duque Motta, the new programme not only melts seamlessly into its context, it also offers guests intimate settings from which to observe the natural scenery all around.
The original hotel comprised a restaurant and seven translucent fabric domes. To these have been added four detached wooden cabins.
The new project is wholly at one with its natural setting. Like the older, tent-like fabric domes, the cabins simply rest on the ground, fitting into the landscape without disruption, respectfully slipping in between vegetation and natural outcrops. Located a short distance from the pre-existing structures, each cabin is surrounded by a small garden with native trees and bushes. The four maisonettes resemble a little village nestled at the foot of a mountain.
Not one single element - from the volume itself to the materials used and the internal layout - that does not speak of intimate, total and exclusive communion with nature.
Each unit is entirely clad in dark timber slats. When doors and shutters are closed to shield occupants from the light, the dark wood cabins can hardly be distinguished from the surrounding vegetation. A short flight of steps leads to the living area. Inside, light-coloured timber-clad walls and floors frame views onto the trees in the foreground and valley beyond through a large picture window shielded by sliding shutters. Each room relates intimately yet differently with the outside.
A few broad steps lead from the living area to a raised night zone. Here, inclined glazed walls and ceilings give extensive views of the heavens from the bed, creating exclusive, intimate stargazing vantage points for its occupants. An outside staircase leads from the night zone up to a third room: a semi-outdoor space delimited only by timber slat partitions, the ultimate place in which to feel completely at one with the extensive Chilean landscape.
Location: Pisco Elqui, Paihuano, Chile
Client: Elqui Domos
Architect: Rodrigo Duque Motta
Design Team: Martin Holmes, Catalina Ventura, Jorge Siviero
Site Area: 4.000 m2
Completion Date: 2011
Engineering: Alex Popp
External Cladding, Timber Structures: Arauco
Photography by: Cristóbal Palma