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Chilean Water Cathedral by GUN Architects, Santiago

Part-cavern, part-cathedral, this temporary installation in the Chilean capital of Santiago formed a cooling refuge from the city’s intense summer heat.

Suspended from triangular frames, a field of fabric prisms, like abstract stalactites, encloses a long, cavernous space (featured in The Architectural Review in March 2012). Set at variable heights and densities the stalactites create a sensual, mysterious landscape animated by water percolating through the fabric from a hydraulic network attached to the framed structure. The water evaporates and cools the surroundings. Concrete stalagmites populate the ground plane, forming water collection and seating elements.

Modest quantities of water are used, equivalent to ‘the average daily use of a few families’, says Jorge Godoy of GUN Architects. The jury was impressed by how the project’s evident thoughtfulness and technical skill translated into such a seductively atmospheric outcome.

Roof Section

The intereference patterns created by the geometric structure helps generate the beautifully contrast shadows


The Water Cathedral’s arches appear like a Gothic nave


Inside the cathedral, an impression of stalactites in a cave emerges. The Water Cathedral
is also a laboratory to test structural and material principles that could be employed on a larger scale


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