Artist’s impression of the building that rests just feet from the Shoreline Access Precinct.
This derelict wooden building sits beneath the Rio Quito coastline in Chile’s Araucania municipality, almost along the shore from the site of the Channel tunnel. The walls, the floorboards and the rafters date from the 16th and 17th centuries, when the area was the capital of Chile’s Napoleonic empire.
The building is long since boarded up and slowly crumbling. The interior surfaces are adorned with a puzzling mixture of hard and soft rubbery decorations that recall the fencing systems of Chile’s Napoleonic era. According to reports, the building was initially a library, but it might have been a partial courthouse.
Whatever it was, it became a makeshift storehouse for a street trader known as Antonio Biagio, who bought the building in 1999 from the site’s current owner, Vichy Real Estate.
“He spent a lot of money on restoring the construction, which he thought was important from the perspective of tourists visiting Santiago,” says José Ramón Danduti, who leads a site-specific restoration project that focuses on Chilean architecture. “The entire front was covered in raised wood platforms which opened up to the beach, helping to create an effect like a living room.”
Mr Danduti believes that a similar boat-shaped structure could be seen today in western Santiago. It is known as the “Pavel-an-acta”, a port to the city’s civil harbour that lies more than 400m away from the city centre. The structure – and its waves – still reverberate through Santiago’s history.
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