Residence facility in the Atacama Desert
The ESO-ALMA Hotel is a residence facility at one of the largest land-based observatories in the world, situated at an altitude of 2,900 metres in the Atacama Desert on the Chilean plateau.
- Chilie, South America
- Workspaces and Educations
- ALMA Construction Division, European Southern Observatory
- Buro Happold (UK)
- Floor area: 5,000 m2
The ESO-ALMA Hotel is a 120-room residence facility at one of the largest land-based observatories in the world, situated at an altitude of 2,900 metres in the Atacama Desert on the Chilean plateau. The hotel units are home-like accommodation for astronomers and other academic specialists from Chile and abroad.
The concept is based on simple principles of materiality, landscape, context, and on a strong belief that individual spaces and varied public spaces create an inviting and inspiring context.
The four elements
Earth, water, fire, and air. Through the ages, the four elements have been considered the basic building blocks of the universe and are important elements in Andean philosophy and the local traditions of architecture.
The individual modules of the residences (The Pods) and the common building (The Hub) form a new context on the site, in which the inhabitants can creating their own a village. The residences are organized into three modules for a total of 40 residences in each of the three groups, 120 residences in all.
The individual rooms are arranged around a central two storey high living space in groups of two units facing in three directions. The fourth side of the space is designed as a covered entry courtyard providing a transition from the residential units to the common garden space. The units are individually rotated to take full advantage of the sloping site and the views. The "living room" space is the focal point of the unit.
The common building, The Hub is like the sun, and the residences like planets revolving around it. It is the center for common activities as well as more personal functions such as swimming and a workout at the gym.
Cooling and heating
This thermal mass, and the low occupancy density, mean that active cooling is not required to keep the rooms within a comfortable band of temperatures.
It is tempting in this warm climate to design a building based around completely passive heating. However, nightshifts, blackout blinds and the need to orientate all accommodation in a certain direction makes it preferred to capture the solar heat and distribute it in a more managed and controllable manner.
A solar thermal panel on the roof will heat water from where it can be circulated to radiators in the rooms. The solar thermal system would also supply heat to a storage calorifier to produce hot water.