One or two nights in the Sodium Hotel

[Image: Bolivia's salt hotel; photographed by Jose Luis Quintana/Reuters].

Ten years ago this month, I took a Polish-language tour of a salt mine outside Kraków – because, at the bottom of the mine, there was a church made from salt.
It was carved from the walls of the mine itself.
That increasingly distant and somewhat surreal experience – I don't speak a word of Polish, and everyone on the tour was from Austria – came to mind when I read about a new salt hotel in Bolivia.
It's a hotel made from salt.
According to National Geographic, the hotel is "constructed solely of salt blocks on the white plains of the Salar de Uyuni in southwestern Bolivia." The Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt desert. Until tourists began visiting it, however, "the only inhabitants of the chilly, harsh region were salt miners, who still extract 25,000 tons of salt annually from the 10 billion tons available."
I know at least this writer is curious if they'll someday build an exact, to-scale replica of the city of Edinburgh: shining there, in the Andean heat, with white cubic walls, the city will then be shaved down – bit by bit, brick by brick – and drunk with shots of tequila. You can salt your chips with it.
Or perhaps architectural enthusiasts will forego the Snow Show... and buy tickets to Bolivia, instead: the Salt Show.
Mineral pavilions designed by Zaha Hadid. Sodium towers by OMA.

(Via Super Colossal and Boing Boing).

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8 Comments:

Blogger spacedlaw said...

Amazing. I wonder how much time you can actually stay in that place before your eyes start burning or you start to shrivel out like an overdrive piece of stockfisk.

August 04, 2007 4:20 PM  
Blogger Simply Bananas said...

architecture like that is amazing

August 05, 2007 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Ugh, tequila is terrible. BAD night a long time ago. Still great find! I really needed a structure like this a few days ago for someone. Too bad I'm late seeing this. I'm wondering how pristine your hands would need to be to build this. There's gloves; but I personally don't like them when I'm building (too slippery). Yet yikes; finger cuts + salt. Thanks for sharing.

August 06, 2007 6:03 AM  
Blogger The Sesquipedalist said...

Reminds me of Denham Township, on Shark Bay, West Australia where several buildings were made of shell blocks from nearby "Shell Beach". The tiny cockle shells had been cemented together by their own dissolved calcium carbonate and compacted so hard that blocks could literally be cut from the beach and used to build the station homesteads! Amazing!

August 06, 2007 8:42 AM  
Anonymous jeremy said...

I always knew religion needed a little salt.

August 06, 2007 9:07 AM  
Blogger xenmate said...

The Salar de Uyuni is an amazing place.

(apologies for self-link)

August 06, 2007 12:55 PM  
Blogger freakshed said...

I was going to leave this comment on the Fictional Gothic Landscapes post inre: Patrick McGrath, but a wall of laziness came in my way. All the better because Albert Camus' The Renegade (found in "Exile & The Kingdom") is about a salt city, no less. A fantastic short story about our protagonist, a Missionary, who shuns all sense and fear as he journey's towards the heart of the Algerian desert to convert the inhabitants of the world's most inhospitable landscape to Christianity.

"How can anyone live in the city of salt, in the hollow of that basin full of dazzling heat? On each of the sharp right-angle walls cut out with a pickax and coarsely planed, the gashes left by the pickax bristle with blinding scales, pale scattered sand yellows them somewhat except when the wind dusts the upright walls and terraces, then everything shines with dazzling whiteness under a sky likewise dusted even to its blue rind...[T]hey had cut out their white, burning hell with a powerful jet of boiling water just to show that they could live where no one ever could, thirty days' travel from any living thing, in this hollow in the middle of the desert where the heat of day prevents any contact among creatures, separates them by a portcullis of invisible flames and of searing crystals, where without transition the cold of night congeals them individually in their rock-salt shells, nocturnal dwellers in a dried-up icefloe, black Eskimos suddenly shivering in their cubical igloos.

"Rain, O Lord, just one real rain, long and hard, rain from your heaven! Then at last the hideous city, gradually eaten away, would slowly and irresistibly cave in and, utterly melted in a slimy torment, would carry off its savage inhabitants towards the sands. Just one rain, Lord! But what do I mean, what Lord, they are lords and masters!"

August 06, 2007 6:56 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Freakshed, thanks for the story and quotation - I'll check it out.

August 09, 2007 3:15 AM  

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