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American Society of Landscape Architects


June 2005 Issue

Stones over the Pacific
In Chile, two public swimming pools with indigenous themes stand the test of time.

By Jimena Martignoni

Stones over the Pacific
Guy Wenborne

What makes Chile’s landscape unique is the strong presence of two elemental natural features: the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Like most cities in Chile, Santiago struggles to spread out along the narrow strip of land between the two.

Located in the country’s central region where mountain chains define the landscape, Santiago’s Metropolitan Park, a 292-acre system of green areas and public recreation amenities, is approximately 2,600 feet above the Pacific. On two of the four hills in the park, two swimming pools have been refreshing the city in the summer for more than three decades. The first pool, Tupahue (the indigenous term for “God’s place”), was built in 1966, and the second, Antilen (“Sun”) was built in 1972.

Chilean landscape architect Carlos Martner, whose work is characterized by the use of stone as a reference to the Andes and to the art of indigenous tribes, designed both pools. Martner explains the history of his materials: “Mapuches [members of one of the most significant Chilean aboriginal groups] believe that nature is a message from their gods, something that keeps the balance of the universe. They think that if a man wants to live a good life, he has to listen to water signs and make use of stone’s strength.”

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