Finnish architects have been chosen to design a hotel for researchers working at the international astronomy facility ALMA in Chile.
The proposal by Helsinki-based Kouvo & Partanen Architects won an international competition.
The hotel residence will be built at 2900 meters above sea level, at the ALMA Operations Support Facility in the Atacama Desert, in the foothills of the Chilean Andes. The buildings are scheduled to be completed in 2014.
The area of the residential hotel, including the main building and 120 bedrooms, is about 5,900 square metres.
The office of architects Sinikka Kouvo and Erkki Partanen plans to merge the buildings into the landscape by using local materials such as stone, copper and volcanic rock. Facades and structures will use the colours and tones of the surroundings.
The buildings are designed for energy efficiency, using natural light wherever possible, and collecting solar energy for hot water and heating.
The intense sunlight has influenced the design in other ways. For example, the entrances and access ways will have canopies made of local materials and natural stone, to provide protection from the strong ultraviolet radiation at this high-altitude site.
Architects from a dozen different countries were invited to participate in a competition organised by ESO, the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere.
Kouvo and Partanen Architects had previously participated in the architecture competition for an extension to the ESO headquarters near Munich in Germany.
ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, is the world’s most complex ground-based astronomical observatory.