Thousands of eager people bounce over to Easter Island every year to visit one of Chile's most important UNESCO-protected heritage sites. But their desire to see hundreds of moia statues originally built between the 9th and 17th centuries AD to commemorate Rapa Nui ancestors comes with a grave environmental price. As part of their initiative to manage this tourism traffic, the World Monument Fund (WMF) teamed up with American Express to build a supergreen visitor center. Managed by CONAF, the Centro de Recepción de Visitantes de la Aldea Ceremonial de Orongo showcases a bevy of the most advanced sustainable building techniques, and recently opened its cool, green doors.
While tourist traffic to Easter Island is important, WMF wanted to ensure that it was managed to benefit, rather than deteriorate, the important archaeological sites on display there. The new green visitor center houses information about how to navigate the park in a manner that preserves the existing resources and provides an important model of what sustainability looks like.
How so, you may ask? In addition to constructing it around an existing warden station to reduce the project’s footprint, the visitor center was built using materials recycled from the previous structure. It also receives its energy from small solar and wind generators, and recycles rainwater. Finally, composting toilets keep the building nice and sanitary. A lot of love and care went into this attractive new center to ensure a continued harmony between curiosity and conservation.