April 10, 2011

Aonni Water Plant


On our recent trip to the southern most point in Chile we had a chance to check out the Aonni Water Plant in Punta Arenas.  Just like the front desk guy told us at our hotel, the plant was just south of the town about 30minutes right next to the two lane highway and with a gorgeous view of the Magellan Strait.  What was so surprising about this building in person was that it wasn't encroaching at all on its surroundings.  It has appeared to me by the pictures before that it was a gigantically magnificent plant and I was curious as we drove south from Punta Arenas how this building was going to work within its context ... we almost drove right past it.

Fixed on the water to our right and the green rolling hills surprisingly the stark white plant fits into the landscape.  Situated above the road with bushes and trees adjacent, the building was just beautiful.  Simple and functional, we decided to pop in to see if we could get a look at the inside.


We were greeted by the grounds keeper of Aonni Water Plant who located the Plant Manager Enrique aka Wicked.  Wicked was extremely gracious and gave us a tour, explaining the company of Aonni, the construction process (Wicked helped assemble it!), and why it is located on the side of the road south of Punta Arenas (because the natural spring water source). 


Once beside the building we were able to appreciate its scale, which is much larger than what it had appeared from the road.

The facility has window openings only on its north face providing plenty of natural light.  (see pic below!)  Most of the building is for the production side: lab, bottle stations, storage and an area where the  specially designed glass bottles receive their Aonni blue labels which are applied by hand.  But there was a small water tasting room for when they host guests and perspective clients.  Matt and I had a chance to tast Aonni...and it was good water.

Wicked said the only thing he considered 'not great' about the building is that it gets cold in the winter, but then again they are located at the southern tip of Chile, next stop Antarctica!

After our visit to Aonni, this building is now on my Top Ten List of Chilean Architecture.










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