Project description by jury
Cities like Quito have uncountable underused flat rooftops that can be transformed to become a strategic resource for urban densification. The project proposes the installation of housing modules to inhabit the unoccupied roofs of existing buildings in a form of urban commensalism. Juxtaposing an extra layer over an existing construction, the strategy is sustainable across many facets: avoiding land speculation and urban sprawl, using existing facilities and infrastructure – thereby offering significant potential for financial savings – and providing affordable housing opportunities for the population.
Despite the minimalist approach underlying the project, the prototype is designed to be modified and customized to adapt to different users’ needs. The structure is made of unprocessed wood with interior walls in plywood and an exterior metal cladding. The two main opposite façades are fully glazed to admit a generous quantity of daylight inside the space. All components are prefabricated and easy-to assemble, to facilitate the replication of the module in different parts of the city and beyond.
Tackling the housing crisis in rapidly growing cities is one of the most urgent challenges of current urban and architectural practices. At the same time, urban density has become a primary growth strategy for revitalizing the commercial and housing potential of urban cores. This implies a more prudent use of the available surfaces for construction and, therefore, a reconsideration on what is really needed for comfortable living. The Holcim Awards jury Latin America applauded this project not only because of the interesting architecture proposed but, especially for how it questions the current consumer attitude to the manner of design for habitable spaces. The minimalist approach pursued by the authors was considered responsive and provocative, and very effective in showing that living with less is possible. The resulting architecture was commended for the elegance of its form and the simple refinements.See more
As a Main category prize winner in the regional Holcim Awards 2020, Accommodating Above in Ecuador automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2021.
Mastering the housing crisis in fast-growing cities is one of the most urgent challenges of urban planning and architecture. This project places housing modules on empty roofs in Quito – treating roof space as a strategic resource for urban densification. The concept of stacking upon existing buildings can help attenuate land speculation and urban sprawl. The jury applauded this project for how it questions the current consumer attitude to the manner of design for habitable spaces. “The optimum use of resources without compromising quality of life is paramount,” says prizewinner María Reinoso Guerrero of El Sindicato Arquitectura, Quito, Ecuador. “Living with only what you need and using neglected spaces above the existing infrastructure of our cities are very sustainable concepts.”Read more » Más información (Spanish) »
The city as an opportunity
Latin American cities have grown under “development” models that promote the construction and speculation on the outskirts rather than consolidating what already exists. In many cases the result of this practice has depopulated the central area of many cities. As citizens, we have not questioned how the city is being built, nor who benefits from this growth. We just copy models of “supposed development” and do not stop to see new and innovative answers in what already exists. Orchestrated Squatting finds in the city a new way to inhabit: settle down parasitic housing on flat terraces, making use of countless underutilized city spaces, creating a new habitable layer at very low cost and without involving large urban economic investments.
Spreading the virus
This new layer of “available land” should be controlled by public policies that stimulate city densification by new ways of inhabiting. The replicability of the idea not only generates an alternative to the urban sprawl growth, but it will let identify and empower people with economic, social and environmental awareness who seek an alternative option to the status quo. As one of the architects is the prototype’s user, we understand the importance of customization due to familiar composition, habits, personal stuff, desires, and so on, in such tiny spaces. The architectonic project is meant to be modified and customized for each user and the idea is to be replicated by anyone anywhere safely and freely, that’s why everything is open source free to copy.
Are all the square meters that we built to live comfortably necessary? Are we building only for fulfilling a status quo imposed by the consumption society? The planet has reached its breaking point, the environmental crisis reaches a non-return status. Our lifestyle should change, stop consuming as much as possible and live with what we need to. Orchestrated Squatting is an option of conscious, efficient and responsible consumption. A small-scale action that adds up to the global actions to tackle the environmental crisis. It is a mindset change in society: live well with less, and stop being consumption prisoners. It is a question for every human being about how much each one needs to inhabit. Paraphrasing Seneca: poor is not the one who has little but the one who needs a lot.See more
CO2 emissions reduction is tackled from three axes: constructive system, built area and lifestyle.
A minimalist housing prototype in Quito for a more conscious, efficient and responsible living.
Author comment by María Reinoso Guerrero of El Sindicato Arquitectura of Quito, Ecuador on Accommodating Above in Ecuador …
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