Merino Wool Center
Juan José Mena / Antonio Riquelme
Maria Jose Muñoz, Pedro Valenzuela
Inmobiliaria Queen State Ltda.
The merino wool center is designed as a timber structure atop a concrete plinth which compensates the sloping terrain. The structure is fabricated of laminated wood, processed in a CNC carving machine that gives a technical upgrade to the place and give more permanence in time than a classic wood building. The architectural language of the building recalls the authentic rural constructions from the region, expressed as long wooden structures with wide eaves that help resist high temperatures in summer and winter rainy days. for the outer cladding, high-density polycarbonate panels were used. This material helps to evenly distribute natural light for working and exhibitions. also, by being semi translucent, the lighting makes the building stand out as a landmark in the landscape.
This project consisted of valuing the existing artisan work in the area that is nourished by a long tradition and culture of hand weaving in merino wool fabric.
The Association of Artisans Ruta de la Lana, has the first impulse with the objective of revaluing the artisanal process of the production of Merino Wool in the VI Region, they promote the development of the weavers' trade as part of the country's heritage and makes it a fundamental part of the Colchagua Valley tourist route. They improve the breed with semetal rams, and improve the products offered by the weavers, all this thinking about how to position them in the valley well known for the great vineyards.
Without much budget to generate the idea, they contacted a winery that had interest in show local products. As the IIVO wine and olive incubator for small producers, and delMoli, a gastronomic proposal based on natural products and gluten-free. They decided to invest in this space for valuing the work of merino wool weavers. With this Initiative, the group of weavers contacted us and commissioning the design the space. We began to investigate this craft, know the places where they produced (mainly their homes) and all the process of merino wool. This gave us feedback in different meetings that elucidating which were the main programmatic components that this space should have, and how they had to be organized. The Merino Wool Extension Center is the work that culminates this journey, by bringing together the weavers of the region in one place and exhibiting their trade with all the productive stages that it involves
The Proposal of the center introduces a space in which local artisans can explain the process of their work. this includes the storage of the raw material through the whole process until the final handcrafted product is ready to be sold. They receive people and explain the whole process step by step from its point of origin, of how they make the garments and the building helps being designed with a linear programmatic layout.
It has been in operation for some time and currently the weavers are organized and producing material for sale. During vacation periods, it has been very interesting to see how this has been incorporated into the tourist route as an alternative to the vineyards and other attractions in the area, thus fulfilling the objective of being a building that values heritage value. and it gives the weavers the opportunity to be a living example of the heritage culture which reinforces the project and makes it a fundamental part of the Colchagua Valley tourist route.
For us as architects, the project was a real challenge, which put all our time at our disposal to be able to achieve this, and one of our main motivations was the group of merino wool weavers, who had the objective of revaluing the artisanal production process of Merino Wool.The Merino Wool Extension Center is the work that culminates this journey, by bringing together the weavers of the region in one place and exhibiting their trade with all the productive stages that it involves.