Project Name: El Roble Park
Garden Surface: 3.5 ha
Construction year: 1998
Location: Coelemu, Biobío Region, Chile
Architect of Main House: Jorge Ramírez and Ana María Amadori
Architect of Montes House: 57 Studio
Architect of Chapel: 57 Studio
The worksite was surrounded by many hectares of pine forest plantations that are still preserved today. Some abandoned houses in ruins remained, as well as various elements that had once belonged to a now defunct vineyard. The owners refurbished the existing buildings and built others, forming a sort of small village.
The design of the garden basically consisted of implementing a network of lanes, paths, observation points and resting places; their function being to connect the spaces through a variety of routes, like in a park.
This project is a good example of integrating a large number of built elements, aged trees, pine forests and some pockets of native flora.
Around the worksite there were pockets of vine that remained intact. Many large Carolina poplars and an araucaria angustifolia stood near a marshy spot. I thought this was the right environment to be the center of the whole project. The image that inspired my first visit was one of the landscapes of southern Chile, of large araucarias under which the ground is clothed in Antarctic beeches. I designated the most humid spot as a small lake, and around it I planted myrtles, honeysuckle, prickly heath, ferns, new araucarias and Japanese maples. Although exotic species were included, I had achieved my vision.
Each of the spaces I designed—the garden of the main house, the garden of the lake, the garden of the chapel and the garden of the Montes house—has its own characteristics, related to its individual topography and use.
The access to the main house is the most formal part of the complex. The oldest building, formerly the wine cellar, is also there. In front of the house, the space of the garden is organized in a symmetrical square.
The Montes house has the features of a lookout, since it is located at the highest point of the terrain and dominates the surroundings visually. A horse chestnut stands out, one of the oldest in the area.
The chapel garden is the most intimate space. It is located in an existing forest of Australian blackwood, where I created a humid undergrowth of mosses and ferns. There, one senses a monastic feeling of silence and calm.
Then there are the gardens belonging to the various old and secluded structures, small constructions now refurbished as apartments and bedrooms for visitors. Each one has a small observation point from which gardens extend in scale with the place. Thus, in addition to enjoying the main garden, visitors can see the park from these viewpoints, consisting of little corners filled with shrubs that give them independence and privacy (the house of the vine, the cottage of the lagoon, etcetera).
The owners then made an excellent decision: due to the success of the first plantings made in the garden, they decided to continue reforesting outside its limits, so that large tracts of native flora replaced the pine forests surrounding the houses.
The owner’s supervision has been vital in the project. She has been interested and has made proposals to ensure that each new place is in harmony with the whole. In this way, the spaces added with the passage of time came to comprise a garden of great wealth that is in permanent transformation. Moreover, she has become convinced that the propagation of the native forest is fundamental to recovering the native landscape.