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Guido Simonetti


The Solar Nation joins the north-western region of Argentina with the north of Chile and the South of Bolivia. This territory is inhabited mainly by Kollas, Atacamas and Omaguacas. Although these ethnics have their differences, their main economy is the same. Rotating between summer and winter time, they practice a trashumance system across the valleys in which they migrate long distances to search the best seasonal conditions for their herd. During the winter period, shepherds stay on the foothills, where the frequent rains full the ground with herbs and bushes. When November approaches, as the heat rises and strong storms appear, they migrate to higher zones. The proposal consists of a system of refugees for travellers along the topography. Its morphology is based on the traditional “apachetas”, monuments made of the accumulation of stones that shepherds leave forming a pyramid shaped landmark that signals their path. The structure is composed of a stone foundation, walls made with adobe bricks (capable of retaining the heath gained during the day in the cold nights) and a wodden roof, also covered with adobe. The utilization of these materials generates a strong relation with the environment, a characteristic of these ethnics’ worldview. As this territory has one of the highest solar radiations of the world, the addition of solar panels in the north face of the roof powers this vernacular structure. This decision allows the refuge to have energy, light, and the possibility to get underground water. The interior of the apacheta consists of a space with the typical “fueguero” where they prepare food and eat. In the south-east face is situated the “poyo”, a platform made of adobe on which they lay to rest. Merging traditional design with the sustainable technology from nowadays, this new shelter seeks to improve traveller’s life conditions.


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