From ALMA via ESO: “ALMA Residencia Handed Over”

ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres


25 April 2017
Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

The new ALMA Residencia at the ALMA Operations Support Facility has just been handed over to the Joint ALMA Observatory. The celebration event was attended by the ALMA Board and the directors of the three executives — ESO, NAOJ and NRAO. The architects who designed the building were also present. The ALMA Residencia is the last major construction item to be delivered to the ALMA project by ESO.

The handover of the ALMA Residencia is a landmark in the development of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The new building will provide accommodation for ALMA staff and visitors at the ALMA Operations Support Facility (OSF), close to San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile, just 28 kilometres away from the telescope itself. ESO is providing the Residencia, which is its final major contribution to the ALMA project.

The design for the building was undertaken by the Finnish architects Kouvo & Partanen and was then adapted to the Chilean market by Rigotti & Simunovic Arquitectos, a Chilean architecture firm. The construction contract for the ALMA Residencia was awarded to the consortium AXIS LyD Construcciones Ltda, consisting of Constructora L y D S.A. and Axis Desarrollos Constructivos S.A. Both are Chilean companies that already had extensive experience in constructing residential buildings in the challenging environment of northern Chile. Construction began officially on 23 February 2015.

The buildings have been designed so that the shape and colour of the exterior of this major architectural project will blend with the topography, the environment and the landscape of the ALMA site. Given the harsh desert environment, remote location and pattern of shift working (both day and night) for the ALMA staff, the Residencia has been designed to provide a pleasant on-site environment for staff and visitors who come from numerous 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. For now, there are 120 rooms extending across six buildings. The common areas feature impressive leisure facilities including a library, cafeteria, lounge, spa with gym, swimming pool, sauna and barbecue area. There is also a kitchen and an extensive dining room, with space to accommodate half of the residents in one sitting.

The OSF, the site of the Residencia, is 2000 metres lower than the telescope itself up on the Chajnantor plateau. ALMA consists of an array of 66 high-precision radio antennas, of 12 metres and 7 metres diameter, working at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths. The observatory began scientific observations at the end of September 2011 and studies the building blocks of stars, planetary systems, galaxies and life itself, letting astronomers address some of the deepest questions of our cosmic origins.

See the full article here .

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The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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