“I don’t think I could ever design something as beautiful as what is already out there. We’re here to frame the landscape, to create an experience of that place, to awaken our consciousness and awareness —embrace the intimacy, the vulnerability, the creatures that inhabit it— and finally, allow nature take over it.” Susana Herrera
Reverence for nature and admiration of the site’s beauty is expressed this architecture intervention. A sigh of an inescapable urge to walk away from our civilized lives and find a peace in nature. The Nahuelbuta Mountains Range is a fascinating call for exploration, discovering and to hide in, inside one of the oldest mountain range on earth.
Our project is located inside the Russland Ecological Park. One of the last remnants of Chilean Native Forest corresponding to the “Nahuelbuta Mountain Range”. Ancient native forests, waterfalls, a variety of endemic trees, like Lingus, Canelos, Olivillos, Ulmos, Quilas, Maquis, Copihues, Murtilla are some of the endemic wilderness you find here. Among its wildlife, abundant birds like Chucao, Torcazas, Loicas, Thrushes, Fios, Traros. You may also find mammals like hares, foxes, and even sometimes you may feel the presence of the enigmatic Puma.
This is a site-specific design proposal that contextualizes the landscape in two different ways. One of control and domain which opens up to the panoramic view, situated at the top of a hill to embrace a welcome and gathering/cafeteria place just at the arrival point. The other; in a hidden, intimate and almost camouflaged spot. This was the idyllic place for two nests like cabins and a sauna. This conditions, provide visitors with an intimate experience for pernoctation. Here encompassing wood, elevated walkways, and surrounding foliage—the last one almost disappears into nature which seemed the most idyllic spot in the close by area of the park for spending the night. A touristic scape that could be used all year round, with trees in full leaf, it recedes into the vegetation, with birds and insects that inhabit the place integrating architecture with landscape.
The premise of this small architectural intervention tourist / ecological design was preferred a low-tech and low impact. The materials are a direct response from the surrounding wilderness. The circumstances of a very low budget and a fairly remote rural site urban areas define our approach to construction. We had to think of a design and construction methodology to consider a construction with local technologies as well as a hand precarious and scarce labour. No finish carpenters were involved, but the enthusiasm and local capacities were constant.
A GATHERING PLACE/ CAFETERIA OPEN AS HILLTOP LOOKOUT:
The circular plan for the gathering place integrates the cafeteria and the unobstructed view into the landscape and the prospect of the surrounding mountains. The floor to ceiling glass window façade creates a gallery type corridor that allows enjoying the vast panoramic view to the Lanalhue Lake one of the first Southern Lakes of Chile’s temperate waters, the Pacific Coastline and the Mocha Island far away.
Simple, readily available materials are used throughout wood-framed walls. Logs, cut in halves were arranged vertically, and they are sheathed in lumber both inside and out; a central tree column defines the centre point of the circular plan, as it gives structural support to the exposed roof structure, while giving structural support to the deck, where you are raised up above the landscape and enjoy a panoramic view of 360 degrees.
“So we wanted the project to be hidden in the landscape, and totally immersed in Coigue, Hualles Tress, as well as the evergreens trees of the area so that nature would take over the architecture. “
The nests are situated almost hidden in the heart of a young forest, where smoothly assimilate into nature. Here architecture is secondary and even disappears in shape and presence
We wanted the tourists to spend the night in a retreat nestled in nature in something other than a traditional cottage. A small space, but big enough for a couple and 2 children, or for someone alone.
A weekend escape in a compact and rather vertical space that would make us feel part of the trees, austere but pleasant to find oneself, and other wild creatures that inhabit this piece of the mountain range.
The Nests appeal to basics, built mostly by materials salvaged from the surrounding areas. With the exception of its bases, built on concrete pillars to minimize the impact of the two vertical structures on the surrounding wilderness.
Each Nest has a lenticular geometry, (circulardiscoidal), and measure about 6,5mts by 3,0mt. The sauna is about 3,0mt. by 1,5mts. The radiata pine panelling is most commonly used as it is considered the only renewable wood. The slender vertical structure blends perfectly with the oak saplings around the natural environment, the wood creates a warm envelope and is stained naturally to create an immersive warm environment which also seems to fascinate woodpeckers that are beginning to take possession of the nests.
Both nests and sauna are connected by elevated bridges over a height of approximately 2mt leaving the foliage almost at arms reach, creating privacy and intimacy with nature. That makes the experiences even better, the sin you feel gravitating with the surrounding.
The interior is austere and minimalist, you can almost feel inside a large trunk, but is comfortable enough; it can sleep a family of four. The minimum equipment includes a double bed in the loft, a kitchen, two pull-out beds and a stove. All interior surfaces, including floor and ceiling, were built with local wood.
The style ladder leads up to the 9 by 5-foot loft upstairs, and yet another outer ladder leads up to the roof observation deck to watch the great amount of birds that inhabit the area.
Nature is always a priority, and therefore we intentionally let the natural ageing of woodturning in a brilliant grey, as their colour and texture would camouflage and merge with the lush natural surroundings of Hualles and Coigües.