PLAYA DE RITOQUE – Between the Chilean city of Valparaíso and the smaller town of Quintero lies Playa de Ritoque, a summertime attraction for its enormous sand dunes and surfer-friendly waters. It’s here, at the beach’s northern edge, that Santiago-based architects Alejandro Soffia and Gabriel Rudolphy have designed Hostal Ritoque, a low-cost lodging for tourists. Its units are simple and modest – not that the client didn’t have high expectations.
‘As it often happens in Chile, wishes were lofty and the budget tight,’ the architects explain. ‘While it is normal for industry outsiders to be unfamiliar with building costs, everyone expects their investment to meet all their wildest expectations.’ With little funding for the project, the architects began, wisely, by constraining themselves even further. They first researched local building practices and developed a catalogue of construction techniques that would reduce the need for skilled or migrant labour. They also took into account the standard dimensions of locally available lumber in order to maximise efficiency and reduce waste. Their detailed isometric and section perspective drawings reveal how this research shaped the final building complex.
Despite the material and technological constraints, the architects managed to create welcoming spaces with modern aesthetics. Within the complex are five small, modular buildings: three two-story units with bunks, one with communal and service spaces, and one with an apartment for Hostal Ritoque’s owner. Each is finished entirely in wood, inside and out. The knotty wood grain that lines the interiors is particularly intense and immersive; it’s difficult to tell where walls meet ceilings and floors. The buildings sit slightly askew from one another on unsawn timber stilts overlooking the pacific.
Photos Juan Durán Sierralta