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GAAA restores boat in Chile that “carries the memory of the forests”

Guillermo Acuña Arquitectos Asociados has created an all-wood cabin with an ornamental overhang and a decorative skylight for the restoration of the Kon-Tiki boat in Chile.

Chilean architect Guillermo Acuña, principal of Guillermo Acuña Arquitectos Asociados (GAAA), redesigned the damaged boat after it was purchased by his uncle, Fernando Acuña.

Kon-Tiki interior with kitchen and stairs
GAAA restored a boat for exploring the Chiloe archipelago off the coast of Chile

In order to create a boat with a contemporary feel that could be used to explore the rough waters of the Chiloe archipelago, the studio completed took the vessel apart, restoring the damaged wood ribbing.

The new construction features a restored hull with an expressive wood cabin, an expanded deck space and a “modern” distribution plan, while retaining the traditional character of the wooden ship.

Kitchen inside GAAA-designed boat
The boat was originally built in the early 1970s

The 14-metre-long vessel consists of three levels, with the primary control room and living spaces housed inside the wooden cabin space that sits atop the deck.

“It carries the memory of the forests from where the long and straight wood of the keel was found, from where the frames shaping its hull came from,” said GAAA.

“Guillermo Acuña’s current interests are centered on research for projects whose character and materiality can come to express the possibilities of the orders of the vegetal kingdom and traditional construction in wood and fibers, which can go on to manifest the impressive geography of Chile.”

Close up boat exterior with Chilean coast in the background
The structure is made of cypress

The boat’s expansive cabin features an ornamental overhang made from wooden slats. Its structure was made from cypress while the finishes were made using mañío colorado, a type of stained pine-tree wood used in the region.

In the cabin, a sitting area is found near the stern that is topped with a skylight that cuts away space on the deck of the bridge.

Wooden entryway in boat cabin interior
The boat has includes three bedrooms

A kitchen and bathroom area occupies the middle of the cabin, with a bedroom placed near the stern. All the interiors were decked out with stained pine with minimal detailing to further the natural approach.

Belowdecks is the engine room as well as two additional bedrooms and bathrooms.

The boat was initially constructed in the early 1970s to fish and harvest wood in and around the islands that make up the southern tip of Chile.

Constructed with ribs made of coigüe wood held together by wooden towels, the boat had an open-air cabin and a small engine room.

Sun with couch and bridge latter through window inside wooden boat
Stained pine wood was used for the interiors

The work on the boat was done alongside carpenters working in the boat yards.

“Techniques of construction remain but the change and perfecting of materials and tools proceed at a rapid pace,” said GAAA.

“In the yards, the shore carpenters are still irreplaceable, needed by those who admire their ancestral skills.”

GAAA is known for its wooden residential constructions that take advantage of local materials and techniques. It completed a home in the archipelago based on traditional fishing huts and a wooden house extension that was painted red and placed on stilts, also on an island in the region.

The photography is by Estudio Palma.


Project credits:

Client: Fernando Acuña
Carpenter / Constructor: Pedro Montt
Collaborators GAAA: Paula Cabezón, Agustina Jarpa, Blanca Valdés

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