Centre of Interpretation of the Desert

Centre of Interpretation of the Desert, or CID, is a research centre located in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Designed by Chilean architects Emilio Marín and Juan Carlos López, the centre was established to allow the public to interact with the desert landscape.

Architecture by nature must address the surrounding landscape, but CID truly revolves around its desert home. The structure is comprised of six volumes that focus on a different view of the Atacama. The reddish façade is built of steel which will weather and rust over time. It is no coincidence that the contemporary building looks a bit extraterrestrial—after all, the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world, is as alien to humans as Mars. CID bridges the gap between humans and a place most unfit for human habitat.

Inside, the centre features research labs, an observatory, and an inner courtyard shielded from the elements. The courtyard is particularly fascinating: its protective design allows plants to grow, creating a small oasis in the desert. CID is a breathtaking design that establishes a unpredictable human relationship with one of the world’s most exceptionable landscapes.