The project has a remarkable site. It is located in the magnificent region of Torres Del Paine ( Paine Towers), in Patagonia, Chile, situated in the southernmost portion of South America. The architect, Germán del Sol delves in the many splendors of the site as well as the particularities of local culture and extract an architecture that is unique, well integrated to its environment, and that helps the visitor build his own impressions of the place.
The inspiration for the hotel, according to the architect, comes from the sheep farm’s buildings of Patagonia, not particularly the main houses of the estancias with their warm interiors closed to their surroundings, but the buildings for the sheep where the farmers work and where the daily Patagonian life is lived
The perceptive experience of the visitor is a key element to the project’s concept. “Remota appears from the distance as a big black barn, its warm yellow lights gleaming at dawn or night, its interior full of light revealed in part, through the vertical sequence of vertical glass. Remota appears as a welcoming warm place to stay, in the vastness of Patagonia’s plains. Its refinements are confined behind a working barn look, to lower the traveler’s expectations, so its interior will appear unexpectedly in all its splendor.”
“Remota appears from the distance as a big black barn, its warm yellow lights gleaming at dawn or night, its interior full of light revealed in part, through the vertical sequence of vertical glass. Remota appears as a welcoming warm place to stay, in the vastness of Patagonia’s plains. Its refinements are confined behind a working barn look, to lower the travelers expectations, so its interior will appear unexpectedly in all its splendor.”
To grasp further the concept behind this design, it is important to understand the architects perception of Architecture “ Architecture, to me, is neither the form of buildings, nor the materials used to build them. For me, Architecture is an extra gift. A gift of suggestions, that may fill what we usually call the empty space. The place above our heads, that invites one to daydream when one is distracted looking away without any intention.”
“One has to be open to see the good side of the unexpected that usually is better than what we expect”
The hotel gets organized around an opened central courtyard that helps in bringing the vast wilderness of Patagonia into the core of the hotel. It is surrounded by two guest rooms buildings on its sides, and a main building on its back that is a little higher, and where the common functions of the hotel are placed.
Although the courtyard is empty, except for a few big boulders, it is a highly suggestive space: it is like a clearing that one makes to see the forest. It lets the visitor’s sub-conscience synthesize the natural environment, and the strong culture and provide a subjective experience about life in Patagonia.
The main plaza becomes an invitation to leave the warm environment of the hotel, and go outdoors wandering in the wild, unworried if the day is windy or cold, keeping in mind that all the comforts are awaiting the wanderers as they gets back to the sheltered space.
Latin American Culture
Germán del Sol points out that Latin American culture relates its people with nature, without the mediation of streets, towns and cities, as has been the case, for instance, in Europe since the middle ages.
“Latin America has an ancient tradition of works of architecture that stand in the midst of nature, just to bring signs of live to places where shepherds, or merchants use to pass or to stay by night, or where people gather once in a while, to celebrate once again, their ancient rites. Today our culture may well help modern travelers coming from big cities, to relate with the natural environment, and have a fruitful experience.”
“Travel is an special occasion to be children again more curious about what happens in the world outside, than about what happens inside the self.”
Remota’s Architecture reflecs that for us, traveling and wandering is all about giving a chance to the unexpected to appear, and find good in it as is. The buildings are enclosed in a continuous sequence of vertical windowpanes opened in the exterior walls.
The architect rightfully preferred to leave the landscape untouched. The natural grasses of the Patagonian plains are left to grow wild all around the place. In the courtyard some big erratic boulders, stand to enforce the sense of emptiness and capture the low light of the sun at dawn or dusk.
The wild landscape of the Patagonian plains covers also the roofs of the buildings. The roofs concrete slabs are coated with the same synthetic asphalt membrane and a carpet of wild grass 2 feet high.
There are three wooden corridors that connect the three buildings as a shortcut that crosses the courtyard. Two of them are covered, while the third one, which goes to the pool and sauna house is open. The low wooden walls of these corridors put a limit to the courtyard, and their roofs straight line form a close horizon that let one appreciate the vastness beyond.
The interior design
The interior design might not be understood if set apart of our architectural work.
The ever-changing light of Patagonia enters the building through the sequence
of vertical cuts of the windowpanes. It then surrounds the big concrete or wooden pillars, and slides along the ceilings wooden trellises that hang well under the concrete slab. The light is captured by the bright colors of the fabrics that cover the dark wood furniture.
The strong and Spartan geometric furniture, was made by carpenters at the job site, out of big pieces of dead native wood, recovered from big forests of Lenga trees that still thrive close to the sea in the Patagonian low lands. The architect’s opinion being that in all furniture, the work done by hand can be appreciated; being is the fruit of men and women craftsmanship and not the product of a big design effort or of polished industrial quality.
The guest bedrooms have also some wood sleepers (big pieces of lenga wood) running vertically from the floor to the ceiling, to support thick wooden benches and tables, the beads head, and make the division with the bathroom, more friendly but still soundproof.
The use of concrete structure of pillars, slabs and interior walls, ensures room privacy and fireproofing. Waterproof plywood panels enclose the structure with a 1-foot thick expanded polyurethane core as insulation. The panels are coated with a synthetic asphalt membrane to provide the building with the best insulation, and protection against the rain and wind. The asphalt membrane is covered with black fine gravel to protect it from the UV rays.
The PVC double-glazing thermal windowpanes form a continuous sequence of vertical openings in the exterior walls.
The pillars and roof were made first to protect the workers from the bad weather. Then the structure was enclosed with plywood panels industrially made,
and that are very easy to hang. Once the panels were fixed to the slabs, they were coated with the asphalt membrane that comes in rolls, and is glued to the panels.
The PVC double glazing windowpanes were hung afterwards. The construction process was a continuous sequence of works that allowed for many different teams to work simultaneously.
Energy saving features
Remota has many saving energy-features. Remota spares all what seems unnecessary to refined travelers. It uses low consuming light bulbs, while improving its color quality with yellow shades, low consuming water bathroom fittings, laundry system, Good insulation of the building, and the proper orientation to the sun as passive energy, saves energy for heating etc. etc. The glasses havea UV rays protection film, etc.
Project Description and Credits
Name: Hotel Remota, Patagonia.
Architect: Germán del Sol.
Project Team: José Luis Ibañez G., Architect. Francisca Schüler M., Architect. Carlos Venegas., Architect. Rodrigo Arenas P., Graphics Arts
Location: Km.1.5 Camino de Puerto Natales in Torres del Paine, Última Esperanza Province, Magallanes Region, Patagonia, Chile.
Building Contractor: Salfa, Punta Arenas.
Area: 5213,46 m2
Project Date: 2004 - 2005