ALMA Residencia Construction to Start

The construction contract to build the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)  Residencia has been awarded to the consortium L y D – Axis, consisting of Constructora L y D S.A. and Axis Desarrollos Constructivos S.A. Both are Chilean companies that have experience in constructing residential-type buildings in the challenging environment of the north of Chile.

The ALMA Residencia will be the new home for staff and visitors to the facility. The shape of the buildings and the color of the exteriors of this major architectural project have been designed to meld with the topography, the environment and the landscape of the ALMA site. The design was undertaken by the Finnish architects Kuovo & Partanen and was then adapted to the Chilean market by Rigotti & Simunovic Arquitectos, a Chilean firm of architects.

Ever since the construction of ALMA began in 2008, with the delivery of ALMA’s first antenna, staff and visitors have lived and stayed in temporary containers in the base camp at the Operations Support Facility (OSF), the focal point of all antenna Assembly Integration Verification activities. Located at 2.900 meters above sea level, the OSF site is about 15 kilometers from the nearest public road and the closest town is San Pedro de Atacama.

The construction of the ALMA array has taken priority up to now and the Residencia at the OSF is the last outstanding major contract.

The work specified in the contract will begin in early 2015 and is expected to take 18 months. Given the harsh desert environment, remote location and shift work (both day and night) for the ALMA staff, the Residencia was designed to provide a pleasant on-site environment for staff and visitors who come from as many as 20 countries worldwide.

The Residencia has two main zones: common areas and dormitory areas. The design uses a modular concept so that more accommodation can be added if necessary. Initially there will be 120 rooms extending across six buildings.

The common areas include leisure facilities such as a library, cafeteria, lounge, spa with gym, swimming pool, sauna and barbecue area. A kitchen and dining room will also be provided, with enough space to accommodate half of the residents at the same time.

For more information, read the ESO announcement here.

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