ESO Hotel, Cerro Paranal, Chile

A boarding house on Mars.

Living and working in the desert.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is located 2,600 metres above sea level in the Cerro Paranal region of the Chilean Atacama desert. The ESO Hotel situated in direct proximity functions as a guest house for the scientists conducting research in the observatory for temporary periods. The  building was designed by the Munich architectural firm Auer+Weber+Architekten. With its exposed concrete pigmented by iron oxide, the monolithic construction fits in perfectly with the desert backdrop, which is reminiscent of a Martian landscape. The thermally inert properties of the massive concrete structure have a favourable influence on the interior temperatures, since the extreme temperature variations between day and night can be buffered. In this way, the thermal energy stored by the concrete over the course of the day is transferred gradually to the inside rooms at night, creating a pleasant room temperature.

The color saturation of the structural elements strengthens the monolithic character of the building, enhanced by the fact that the interior wall surfaces were also left untreated.

The structure features exposed, site-mixed concrete throughout.