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title              AT_kaweska_ethno-scientific camp

location       jetarkte, puerto eden, xii region, chile

team           pol taylor + andres garces + marcelo araya + travesia pucv

client           magallanes and antarctica government [fic project]

date            2020

data            tor.shell_116m2 / 7m high / 8m wide / 13m deep

materials   native lenga timber, verseidag membrane, bent steel plates, polycarbonate facade, polyester                                        insulation. hessian.


narrative >> after 6000 years living as sea nomads navigating a territory of 2000 km in the fiords of patagonia, some remaining members of the kaweska ethnic group finally settled around what is now know as puerto eden at the heart of the o’higgins national park, where they have recently been assigned 300 ha. of land by the government. funds have been made available to develop an ethno-scientific-touristic project for the site with an aim to impact the development of the entire national park. the first stage involved the design and installation of a scientific camp. an investigation into the dwellings of the kaweska revealed that on each site they occupied temporarily  they fabricated an identical elliptical structure with two parallel beams which they named an AT. the surface for the structure was sewn together from sea lion skins and taken with them in their canoe from site to site.


the design for the AT integrated the two parallel beams as a transparent discontinuity in the geometry of a, generating a minimal but continuous relationship with the territory from skyline to skyline. the is then reflected in the horizontal axis, in an operation that reconstructs the visual field of the archipelago dwellers who see each island duplicated on the waters surface. the reflected releases its relationship with gravity and allows the at_2020 to float across its landscape. it also minimizes the contact and the impact with the waterlogged peat bog on which the at is sited. helical earth anchors were developed that penetrate the 2m of peat and allow the structure to be supported by the rock surfaces below.

the first deck is protected from the rain and the wind but not heated, and used as a store for equipment and provisions, as well as containing the separating composting toilet and shower room. the second deck is symmetrically organized around the transparent slot, and will contain the main living areas, with a kitchen and work stations. on a third level there are two mezzanine platforms where up to 8 scientists can enjoy some privacy in personalized sleeping spaces. water is locally sourced and gravity fed by piping. heating will be resolved through a centrally located wood burning stove. the structure will receive blanket insulation that will be retained behind an internal surface of hessian where a community project will undertake a series of tapestries that establish a graphic reading of the ancestral kaweska tales of voyages and spirits.


the initial installation was undertaken under the travesia format with a group of volunteers from the pucv in january 2020. the logistics involved in arriving with all of the materials and equipment at puerto eden were complex, even with the help afforded by the chilean navy. access to the jetarkte site involved unloading materials by hand from small timber craft. the weather was extremely challenging with a sequence of intense storms. the installation lasted 14 days and the at was 90% completed. the final installation and equipping of the at will take place with a second mission in may 2020, enabling it to receive teams of researchers interested in investigating this vast and largely unexplored territory.

YEKSTAS_the last native kaweska speaker gabriella told us her word for a seed. the kaweskas never planted them during their 6000 year of nomadic rowing from island to island, but now that they have settled in puerto eden this word seemed appropriate to name the first structure, inspired in a rereading of their AT, which provides the platform for a new ethnographic tourism that projects the kaweska identity into the future.

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