Rafael Viñoly Architects unveils Viñoly’s last project before his passing, an oceanfront building in Uruguay

Sandy Surroundings

Rafael Viñoly Architects unveils Viñoly’s last project before his passing, an oceanfront building in Uruguay

Médano El Pinar, the last project Rafael Viñoly designed before his passing, is sited on an oceanfront property fifteen minutes away from Montevideo, Uruguay. (Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects)

A short drive from Montevideo, Uruguay, is Médano El Pinar—a forthcoming multi-family, luxury, residential complex by Rafael Viñoly Architects wholly embedded with its coastal surroundings. Rafael Viñoly died in 2023 in New York, but was born in Uruguay. This beachfront residential project was the last project he designed before his passing.

Médano El Pinar is perched above a lush public beach. The oceanfront building sits behind sand dunes on the perimeter of a quiet residential neighborhood. To fit in nicely with the context, Viñoly’s design mimics the sand dunes with its low-slung and sinewy shape. From the public beach, the building will be completely invisible, the architects said. The use of pale-colored timber cladding the curvaceous building will also camouflage it with its sandy surroundings.

a small pool next to sandy hill
Médano El Pinar is sited adjacent to the Uruguayan beachfront and designed to blend in with its natural surroundings. (Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects)

Médano El Pinar will deliver 120 beachfront units, ranging from 1 to 5 bedrooms. These are arranged along the 1,400-foot-long building in a terraced configuration. Médano El Pinar’s curvature affords each unit generous open-to-the-sky gardens that overlook the beach to the south or a large lagoon to the north.

The unit configuration means that no apartment sits atop one another. This gives each apartment a large private garden and visual and acoustic isolation akin to that of a free-standing house. This experience is amplified by circulation: Each unit has direct access without need of a lobby.

view from a unit out toward water
Residents can enter their units without passing through a lobby. (Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects)
wood kitchen
The use of timber and pale wood elements continues into the interiors. (Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects)

Looking ahead, Médano El Pinar is aiming to become the first Nearly Zero-Energy Building, the architects continued. The designers also say they’re seeking carbon neutral construction via the extensive use of locally sourced carbon sequestering building materials, utility-scale photovoltaic power generation, redundant centralized thermal plants, rainwater recapture, green roofing, heat pumps, and ubiquitous cross ventilation.

Médano El Pinar with rooftop pool and ocean view
According to the architects, from the beach, the building will be completely invisible. (Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects)

All of this is meant to create what Rafael Viñoly Architects calls “conscious luxury”— a feeling, they say, of being at one with nature and with oneself in an environment that supports resilience, harmony, and wellbeing without ever being, or feeling, frivolous or ostentatious.