February 1, 2013

A Point of View: Panoramas Abound At Chile’s Hotel Refugia

Commanding a verdant promontory on Chiloé Island, part of an archipelago near Chile’s southern tip, Hotel Refugia is all about the view. You can gaze across the Gulf of Corcovado, studded with tiny islands, toward the Chilean mainland, the snow-covered peaks of the Andes in the distance. Preserving these vistas from every vantage point was Mobil Arquitectos’s guiding principle in designing the 13,500-square-foot lodge.

Mobil’s design sits lightly on the landscape: Four giant concrete pillars support the upper guest-room and spa level, cantilevered out toward the Pacific Ocean. That overhanging second floor not only allowed for the ground-level public areas beneath to be wrapped entirely in glass, but also protects them from the area’s frequent wind-driven rain. Partner Patricio Browne describes the building as “a structural composition perched on a hilltop, rather than an opaque edifice growing out of it. It’s about maximizing light, space, sky, and perspective.” Indeed, every one of the dozen guest rooms has a water view.

Though aggressively angular in profile, Mobil’s design draws inspiration from the island’s timber churches and waterfront wooden houses raised on stilts. The exterior is clad in larch shingles; the interior, with an air of alpine-chalet style by way of Scandinavian modernism, boasts textured concrete surfaces and flooring and walls lined in indigenous woods. Most of the latter were harvested from Chiloé’s forests and cured in nearby Puerto Montt. As for furnishings, interior designer Ignacio Irarrázaval assembled a showcase of furniture, textiles, and baskets made by locals that nod to the rustic environs. “I spent a year looking for and working with the artisans to make them part of the project,” he says.

Continuing the sustainable agenda, Mobil placed north-facing windows (keeping in mind the southern hemisphere’s antipodean exposure) to capture passive solar heat in winter; stored in the floors by day, the warmth radiates back at night. Deep eaves shade the windows from the high summer sun. Luckily, the best views are to the south.

Project Team
VMB: Structural Engineer. Ruben Paredes: General Contractor

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