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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.94 Santiago dic. 2016 

Works & projects

Wicker temporary city. Chimbarongo, Chile

Domingo Arancibia1  * 

Pablo Casals2  ** 

1Profesor, Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

2Profesor, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile.


We can understand imaginaries as long historical accumulation processes that are sedimented over time, shaping the image of a place. But sometimes progress breaks that bond between history and image, leaving imaginaries without actual support. This project not only rescues an imaginary about to disappear, but also renews it - so that its potential future is not hindered by nostalgia.

Keywords: heritage; image; land; crops; production systems

Located 150 km south of Santiago and historically linked to artisanal activities,3 the town of Chimbarongo was established in the early 20th century as the wicker capital, given its local cultivation and manufacturing. This activity is currently under threat, mainly because of poor circulation, the presence of imported fibers and land use to more profitable crops. Therefore, the amount of land intended for wicker production and crafts manufacturing has decreased significantly (from 223.2 ha in 1997 to 107.5 ha in 2007).4 While the interest in natural fibers has recently grown, these changes have failed to reverse the situation due to the concentration of trade in major cities and the insignificant return of profits to its place of origin.

In 2015 we were appointed by the Municipality of Chimbarongo to develop a regional scale project to promote the city and safeguard wicker crops. Therefore, we undertook a general diagnosis of its current condition from the viewpoint of its image and its territory. We concluded that wicker was recognized and associated with the town, but the only references acknowledged were the craft stalls on the side of Route 5 South. Moreover, we identified two territorial features offered as an opportunity: Chimbarongo's regional positioning in relation to thematic tourist circuits and the presence of the Convento Viejo reservoir.


Time span

To wicker features were rescued: its ability to achieve considerable heights in a short time (5 meters in a year) and its varied morphology. Thus, we suggested using the crop as a green wall capable of varying across its different heights and colors, making the city and the landscape elements 'appear and disappear.'

The crop as container

We define a form capable of peripherally linking Chimbarongo's four sectors, managing to establish a zone for urban development (north sector) and one for the development of rural tourism (southern sector).

The crop as a fabric

The crop's dynamic properties allow it to meet different market requirements, being able to expand or contract according to production demand.

Production systems

We define a protected perimeter for wicker farming, working through cooperatives. In addition, we propose built infrastructure for its collection and processing, plus low-cost workstations for its manufacturing.

Figure 1 Crop detail. Not scaled 

Figure 2 Wicker temporary city. Published scale 1: 250.000 

Figure 3 View from the dam during May 

Figure 4 View of the wicker harvest in June 

Figure 5 Temporary city sections. Not scaled 

Figure 6 Seasonal activities. Not scaled. 


Domingo Arancibia, Pablo Casals


Alexis Quinteros Salazar, Stephan Puschel


Osvaldo Sandoval, Alekos Vuskovic


Comuna de Chimbarongo, vi Región, Chile


Municipalidad de Chimbarongo

Agricultural engineer

Diego Kirberg Sermini

Site area

12.100 ha

Project year



Pablo Casals


Domingo Arancibia

* Domingo Arancibia Architect, Universidad de Chile, 2013. His undergraduate thesis was awarded the prize for best national undergraduate project (2012-2014) and nominated for best world undergraduate project. He was awarded the Social Architect Expo 2015 Milan, Arquitectura Caliente, Obra destacada in the XIX Valparaiso Biennial and Archiprix Awards second place, among others. His works have been published in Italy, Germany, Spain, China and presented in various biennials and international exhibitions. Arancibia is professor at the Facultad de Arquitectura, Universidad de Chile and director of the office Estudio de Arquitectura Normal.

** Pablo Casals Architect, Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile, 2007. In 2009 founded his own architecture and photography office, a platform from which has developed different projects in Chile and Mexico, in collaboration and partnership with T38studio. Has been professor at the Universidad Andrés Bello, Universidad Finis Terrae, Universidad Diego Portales and Universidad San Sebastián. His work includes the exhibition Blanca montaña, a record of Chilean contemporary architecture for the last 20 years, distinguished at the 5th Budapest Architecture Film Days as Best Landscape Architecture Film. He currently serves as a professor at the Universidad Andrés Bello.

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