Architectural Inspiration from the South of the World
ELIGE MADERA

Architectural Inspiration from the South of the World

The growing interest in timber construction solutions has led to international competitions where our professionals and Chilean architects are being recognized as wood experts.

The growing interest in timber construction solutions has led to international competitions where our professionals and Chilean architects are being recognized as wood experts.

Sustainable Challenges

In the construction industry in South America and the Caribbean, building with wood used to be avoided. This was due to stigma associated with low-quality buildings and the lack of knowledge about the use of this material, which is key to creating a world with reduced carbon emissions. That’s why Uruguay, a country that’s interested in wooden architecture, has called for an international competition to find architects who can provide timber-based housing solutions.

The forestry industry represents 4% of the of the South American country's GDP, which has increased its forest area during the last 30 years - with over 850,000 hectares of forest today - and is a leader in sustainable timber production in the region. In this way, Uruguay's interest in utilizing its own resources for wood construction has emerged, supported by experienced professionals for the development of affordable housing with wood technologies.

The “Madera: Innovation for Social Architecture in Uruguay” contest was held early in 2023 and promoted by the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning of Uruguay and MEVIR (Movement for the Eradication of Insalubrious Rural Housing) along with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank. This initiative represents an opportunity to develop projects that prioritize the use of wood and demonstrate the effectiveness of these types of buildings in the country.

The competition attracted construction professionals from all over the continent. In the case of Chile, the opportunity came for the “Red Mercados” initiative promoted by CORFO, which made it possible to present the services of Chileans abroad, attracting the interest of the South American country and opening the doors to future large-scale projects for national architects in Uruguay and the rest of the continent.


Impacting Collaborations

The occasion brought together in Uruguay the architectural firms Impulso Arquitectos and 14 Arquitectos, both based in Temuco, in Chile’s La Araucanía region, with their local counterparts Arquitectura Tatú and BigSur.

“They saw in us the expertise to support them, and we decided to create a link with Arquitectura Tatú and BigSur,” commented the Association of Architectural Offices of Chile.

The project presented by the Chileans captured interest by incorporating wood in construction as it is used in the south of Chile. While the project was not selected, it received an honorable mention, which represents a great achievement for the Chilean professionals.

“We didn't expect it, because we had already gained a lot just by working with them, developing a successful project” emphasized the Association of Architectural Offices of Chile.

Jaime Alarcón, of Impulso Arquitectos, pointed out that, beyond the competition, the fact that the Chilean proposal was among the seven best, “allows us to evaluate different possibilities in the future, because it opened the eyes of the Uruguayan ministry and its technical teams.”

“Thanks to the internationalization program Red Mercados, we were able to coordinate a whole movement that seeks to highlight wood as a construction material and thus develop technological solutions in Uruguay. The competition allowed our ideas to contribute to a roadmap that is being developed in that country for the design of public and private infrastructure,” said the partners.

Both architectural offices are part of the “Arquitectura Sur del Mundo” alliance, along with four others, which together participate in Red Mercado's initiatives, along with AniChile, the consulting firm in charge of developing CORFO's program activities. For the firm, in the words of development manager, Romina Martínez, the participation of local companies is "an effort of international positioning of the exportable offer with high added value of the Araucanía Region, in this case through the alliance of architecture offices Arquitectura Sur del Mundo, which seeks to provide solutions for housing deficits, sustainability and circular construction from wood as a building material.”

Undoubtedly, the opportunity to participate in the Uruguayan competition opens doors to participate in high-level initiatives and projects in the country and throughout the rest of the Southern Cone, demonstrating the expertise in the development of sustainable wood technologies by Chilean professionals.
 

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