Architect Pablo Larroulet has created the AKA Patagonia Hotel in the port city of Puerto Natales, Chile, a gateway to the famous Torres del Paine National Park. Located at the top of the valley on a gentle slope with sweeping panoramic views of volcanoes, mountains and glaciers, the project contains a series of private double cabins congregating around a shared common space.
The majestic and untamed wilderness of Patagonia attracts adventure-seeking travelers from all over the world. The natural combination of rugged remoteness and extreme climates of the region, along with the unique wildlife, ecosystems and cultural significance, has also helped contribute to its reputation for sustainable tourism and responsible construction. This has led to a demand for hotels such as AKA Patagonia.
“AKA Patagonia is a tribute to the landscape, an architecture that emerges from the earth and becomes part of nature, rupturing forms that rise up like mountains, volcanoes and glaciers on the horizon of Puerto Natales, ‘The end of the world,’” Larroulet said. “The project consists of six modules with private double rooms and one communal module for relaxing, the entire construction was built on piles to have the lowest impact on the site.”
To achieve the low-impact construction, the modular wood cabins were built in a nearby shipyard and strategically assembled onsite on pile foundation. Piles often create less noise and vibration during the installation process, produce less waste and have less need for heavy machinery. Some types of pile foundation can even be removed and reused in other locations if needed.
The modules were constructed using the wood of native lenga trees, a species of birch common to Patagonia that has evolved to grow in areas with poor soil conditions, temperamental climates and strong winds. The idea of using these sustainable and adaptable trees in construction helps achieve a natural fusion between the newly built design and the surrounding environment, especially as the wood ages, according to the architect. The structures are positioned to maintain maximum levels of natural light and, of course, to take advantage of the property’s stunning views.
Photography by Fernanda Del Villar via Pablo Larroulet Architecture