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Monday, October 22, 2007

Termas Géometricas

Termas Géometricas in Villarrica, Chile by Germán del Sol

Just south of the volcanic Villarrica in the Patagonia region of Chile is the Termas Géometricas, "17 slate covered pools of natural hot springs waters that flow in plenty along a mountain stream, in the midst of the native forest of the Villarrica National Park." While visitors may have a difficult time reaching the pools, once there they find comfort via wooden pavilions and paths designed by Germán del Sol.

To speak of the architecture of Termas Géometricas is to start with the natural features, primarily the path of the stream and the natural "rooms" in which the structures sit. The steep and tall "walls" of the stream and the lush vegetation are embracing, increasing the ease pleasure that one derives from the hot springs.

The architecture at once furthers this embrace, while also creating a distinction between it and the natural context. These two poles come across most explicitly in the vegetated roofs and the red hue of the local wood used throughout. This last is easily the design's most striking characteristic, though it's one that appears appropriate, as if that distinction must be made, lest the nature of which it is drawn and dependent upon is not acknowledged properly.

Beyond the sight of the buildings and walkways, this is of the utmost an architecture of the other senses, from the sounds of water and the smells of the vegetation or fire to the feeling of the humid air on the skin and the taste of water when one is completely immersed. The design by Germán del Sol reinforces the interaction of the senses with the environment and allows one to "enjoy the good side of the unexpected events of nature."

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