Improbable stairs lead down to the surf on the Chilean
By Jimena Martignoni
Punta Pite is a 27-acre piece of land that follows the
contours of a bay between Zapallar and Papudo, two sea towns located 93 miles
north of Santiago, Chile. A residential development planned and built here
between 2004 and 2006 takes its name from this place and is laid out in a way
that surrenders to the power and beauty of the ocean. It was developed as a
series of parts connected by a walking path, one part of which seems to be
sculpted out of the existing cliffs, while the other part passes through a
restored creek that crosses the site from east to west. The parts were meant to
create one single spatial experience of the site.
The Punta Pite project began in 2003 when Consorcio Nacional
de Seguro, a Chilean insurance company that invests in real estate, bought the
land for development. They hired Santiago-based architecture firm José Peñafel
Architects for the general planning of the site, including the layout of roads
and lots, and landscape architect Teresa Moller, whose office is also based in
Santiago, for the site’s environmental studies and overall landscape design.
Moller began her career as a protégé of the well-known Chilean
landscape architect Juan Grimm, through whom she learned about the extensive
native flora of Chile and its particular geography. After studying garden
design at the New York Botanical Gardens she returned to Chile and set up her
own office, which is now one of the most prominent in Santiago. In 2005,
British landscape magazine Garden
Illustrator chose her, along with nine other landscape architects from
different parts of the world, as one of the most interesting current designers.
When explaining what guided the design for Punta Pite, she
refers to the words of a famous Chilean poet who describes Chile as “pure
geography” and the consequent responsibility she thinks this places on local
designers. Then she talks about how she spent her childhood in Zapallar and
experienced the cliffs, the creeks, and the beach as parts of a whole,
underlined by the strong presence of the sea.
“I wanted Punta Pite,” she says, “to have the same
possibility of exploring and discovering nature that Zapallar had when I was a
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