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Estrategia para activar el cambio | Frente marítimo de West Palm Beach

Category: ⚐ ES+concursos+ecosistema urbano+sostenibilidad+urbanismo+work in progress

El proyecto Open Shore, del cual estamos actualmente desarrollando algunas partes, propone soluciones a algunos de los retos de la ciudad de West Palm Beach, Florida, desde varias perspectivas complementarias. Retos que, por otro lado, comparte con muchas otras ciudades costeras.

A continuación os contamos con más detalle nuestra estrategia para activar el cambio en el frente de la ciudad hacia la laguna.

Como se presenta en la página web del concurso Shore to Core, West Palm Beach es una ciudad joven en pleno crecimiento. La región se asocia generalmente con la importante comunidad de personas retiradas que se mudan allí en busca de un estilo de vida más relajado y un mejor clima, pero además hay una creciente población de jóvenes entre 20 y 30 años, así como una gran comunidad afroamericana e hispánica. El centro de la ciudad y las 10 millas de frente marítimo brindan una gran oportunidad para desarrollar nuevas actividades que conecten con diferentes sectores de la población.

Algunas de las preguntas planteadas por el concurso era: ¿Cómo re-imaginar el centro de la ciudad para hacerlo más atractivo y vibrante? ¿Cómo pueden las ciudades recabar información que alimente las estrategias adaptación y crecimiento? ¿Cómo podemos facilitar la interacción social entre grupos diversos? ¿Cómo podemos construir un ambiente que mejore la vida de los residentes física, mental y socialmente?

En este artículo os compartimos el análisis previo y la estrategia general que utilizamos para generar el diseño de cada área del proyecto.

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Febres Cordero | A new hybrid building in the historic center of Cuenca

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+mixed-use building+sustainability

Vista aerea febres

The Febres Cordero building was developed within the scope of CUENCA RED, the urban reactivation strategy for Cuenca, Ecuador. The aim of Cuenca Red was to incorporate activities and programs in the Historic Center in order to create a new network of reactivated public spaces. One of those spaces is Febres Cordero, an emblematic and historical building which had functioned as a school for decades.

This building has great heritage value and has one of the largest courtyards of the entire historic center (3,300 m2). It is located on Gran Colombia Street, right next to the tram line. It is comprised of two main volumes, one of them  with much less quality and architectural interest.

The building was going to stop its activities within a few months of the beginning of the project, as the school was going to be relocated into a new building. Also, the school has been an important node of social and economic activity for years on the area. This large community injects daily activity into the center of Cuenca.

Fachada Exterior Febres Cordero

Activity from the beginning

One key aspect of the project was not only to design a building with new uses and programs, but also to plan the transition process between one moment and the other. We conceived the project from its Phase 0, in order to unleash, through different actions and activities, dynamism and interest in the future of the building and its interior space.

Space is activated from the beginning, dividing the construction into 3 phasesThe project is planned in 3 phases. The first one is really important, consisting of the opening and reactivation of the central courtyard as a public space for events and activities. This phase is esentially low cost, but its implementation will have a strong impact in keeping momentum and activity around the area, and also generating interest and expectations around the building. Subsequently, the reconditioning and construction of the building will be carried out, and finally the climatic conditioning of the new interior square.

In search of new uses

Following our conclusions of the urban analysis, we noted the progressive emptying of housing in the Historic Center of Cuenca. Although the center still continues to be an active space for tourism and commercial activity, the number of residents is decreasing, moving towards the perimeter of the city center.

This is certainly a problem, especially in the afternoon or the evening, when the shops and offices close, and the lack of activity and people in the area becomes more evident. That emptiness generates unfavorable conditions, like sense of insecurity, or an increase in the number of abandoned or underused properties.


Current status of the interior patio of the Febres Cordero School in Cuenca, Ecuador.In this complex context we identified, through a participatory process partly hosted in the school itself, the need of strengthening the resident population living in the center of Cuenca. It was also key to generate conditions for other families to consider attractive and feasible to live there. The inhabitants of the CHC and technicians who participated in the participatory process agree that the building has optimal conditions to become a new “catalyst” of the city. The Febres Cordero building can be reconstructed as a pilot project that will address many of the opportunities and challenges shared with other historic centers in Latin America.


Participatory activities carried out with the students of the Febres Cordero School

A hybrid architectural complex

Febres Cordero does not only house a school, but also commercial premises along the ground floor. The project aims to enhance this aspect, creating a hybrid building capable of bringing together different programs, generating a diverse community that serves as a reference for social and economically sustainable urban intervention.

The rehabilitation of the Febres School seeks three main goals, as steps towards the improvement of the Historic Center:

  • Increasing the extension of public spaces in the area
  • Providing diverse housing typologies (including social housing)
  • Generating a new heart of urban activity through the insertion of new facilities.

Hybrid program of the new complex

To achieve this, Febres Cordero comprises 3 components:

  • Rehabilitation of the existing heritage building (4.500 m2) with new apartments, students dormitory, commercial ground floor, common workspaces, rest area and an elevated outdoor public space.
  • Construction of a new building (5.000 m2) on the surface freed by the demolition of the unprotected building. It is mainly residential and will also have a series of additional services and facilities that are of a public nature and therefore accessible to the rest of the inhabitants of the complex.
  • Reconfiguration of the inner courtyard as a new public square for the city (3.300 m2).

The new building is connected to the heritage building by corridors

A new public square

The courtyard is conceived as a new public square for the city. It recovers the entrances from the 3 adjacent roads and generates an active and attractive, programmable public space. The ground floor will be adapted to reinforce this idea, promoting permeability and the visual connection between the streets and the courtyard.


New public square, with 3 entrances from the surrounding streets

The proposed square includes two conditions: a flexible space with a mobile grandstand that allows the creation of different configurations for cultural and sport events, and a more natural space, a cuencan garden inspired by the multiple existing green patios that together create a network of vegetation and biodiversity in the historic center.

Respecting heritage

We are aware of the historical value of a building like this. After a careful study of the history, typology, and construction of the building (built around 1900), the intervention was designed to preserve and respect its historical value and at the same time to introduce new structures to diversify the possibilities of use and adapt it to the evolving urban context.

The intervention respects and seeks to value the intrinsic qualities of the building, and also wants to create a dialogue with the most innovative construction techniques.

TOMO 2.pdf

View of the new public space with the mixed-use building connected to the old Febres Cordero School.

Sección Transversal de la Escuela Febres Cordero

Cross section. A relationship between the new mixed building (left), the public square (center), and the heritage building (center and right).


Architectural plans of the refurbished complex.The main strategy consists of concentrating the utilities or technical systems of the apartments in spines perpendicular to the façade line. This way we can  to minimize the impact on the façade and generate cross ventilation in all the rooms. The exterior façade is not altered by any of the interior interventions and will preserve its current structure and image towards.

On the other hand, the roof was in poor condition. Activating the space under the roof with the creation of a new housing ring towards the interior of the patio enabled us to expand the useful surface without impacting the building on its exterior appearance and its relationship with the public road.

Maximum sustainability

In a project as ambitious as Febres Cordero, the most appropriate technical mechanisms must be sought to achieve maximum economic, social and environmental sustainability. The final design and construction systems were devised under the following sustainability criteria: following bioclimatic design principles for better energy efficiency, adopting local materials and construction techniques to improve durability, and considering the economic impact of the construction at a local level.


Adaptation of housing typologies to the structural modules in the heritage building.

Comportamiento bioclimático Febres Cordero

Basic outline of the bioclimatic behavior.

The rehabilitation of Febres Cordero is also conceived to be financially sustainable, allowing a short-term return of the investment with the sale and lease of housing and commercial premises, and with the generation of new economies in the urban area.

In general, this rehabilitation project, a pilot within the general Cuenca Red plan, will increase the intensity of use, the possibilities of social interaction and the generation of economies that contribute to the long-term sustainability of the historic center.

You can see the full documents of this project in our portfolio.

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A starting point: Banco de Ideas as an activator of the Hermosillo center

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+mixed-use building+sustainability+urbanism

In a previous post, we shared the general approach for the Revitalization Plan of the historical center of Hermosillo. Pointing out how a strategic-tactical approach can contribute to transforming the city.

As we are focusing this month on hybrid buildings and urban catalysts, we want to take a closer look into one of the key sub-projects of the Plan Idea Hermosillo: the Banco de Ideas (Bank of Ideas).

Identifying an opportunity for activation

During the mapping process of the historical center, both in the on-site surveys and in the participatory meetings and workshops, one of the locations began to stand out as a key spot in the project’s approach: the Banco de Ropa (bank of clothes), a two-storey building used by a local NGO as a collection, storage and re-distribution point for second-hand clothes.

General view of the location of the Banco de Ideas and its surroundings, as seen from Cerro de la Campana. Historic Center of Hermosillo, Mexico. Ecosistema Urbano.

General view of the location of the Banco de Ideas and its surroundings, as seen from Cerro de la Campana.

View of the Banco de Ropa from the No Reelección Avenue, and current façade seen from Avda. Obregón. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

View of the Banco de Ropa from the No Reelección Avenue, and current façade seen from Avda. Obregón.

Many of the ingredients needed to launch an urban activation project are present on the Banco de Ropa:

  • It is strategically located in the center of the intervention area (see map). On the main street, near an important intersection and with direct views of the Cerro de la Campana. This location gives the project an excellent level of visibility and maximizes its potential impact on the urban center.
  • It presents an interesting combination of building and public space. Two of its facades, equipped with large sliding doors, face different streets, one of them with a small square in front. Right next to it, there is a vacant lot currently used as a parking lot. This combination of spaces creates the ideal situation to experiment with interior and exterior urban interventions.
  • The size of the building—around 1,700 m2—and of the surrounding spaces are also ideal, keeping the intervention in an affordable range but allowing a significant level of impact to be achieved in its surroundings.
  • The building is the only public property in the area, which enables some approaches that would not have been possible on a privately owned lot.
  • Transferring the existing use—as a clothing ban—to another location was deemed feasible and even desirable.
  • During the workshops and meetings, several local agents expressed their interest in taking part in the activation of the Banco de Ideas from the socio-cultural and business side. The building is seen as a possible hub for entrepreneurship, gastronomy, and technology, incorporating an educational component in its core.
  • The building’s general construction quality is relatively low, but on the other hand offers great potential for reconversion, being able to function as a large container of activities.

All these factors give this location a great potential for transformation and positive impact on the environment. They enable the ability to activate spaces, attract people and become the first step towards the revitalization of the historical center.

This is why this location was chosen as the main intervention of the Plan Idea Hermosillo, being developed as the “Banco de Ideas” Pilot Project.

The Banco de Ideas as an urban catalyst

The name and identity of the Banco de Ideas establish a link between its current use as a clothing bank and future use as a cultural, social and economic incubator. It is a space of exploration, a place capable of kick-starting the social, cultural and economic activation of the area. Capable of functioning as a collaborative “kitchen” in which the city and the neighborhood can experience new activities and ways of organizing themselves, and launch initiatives that improve the quality of life.

This is the role of an urban catalyst: to be one of the first steps on the long process of revitalization of an area of the city. The aim is to create a public and open place that would become a new node of activity, achieving a high impact without consuming excessive economic resources.

Diversifying uses

One of the first considerations when conceiving a new urban space like this one is the incorporation of new uses and programmes that will guarantee its transformation into an attractor of activity.

Many of the proposals emerged during the participation process with different stakeholders. The activities also served to identify the people or groups that could be involved in the subsequent management of the space. The uses and programmes that were identified as relevant for the reconversion of the building included gastronomy, culture, and heritage, entrepreneurship, education, new technologies and sport.

Key themes and activities identified around the Banco de Ideas. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano.

Key themes and activities identified around the Banco de Ideas.

Maximize the relationship with the environment

The Banco de Ideas building is a visual reference for the entire area because of its solid volume and height. It can clearly be seen from the Cerro de la Campana. However, given the importance of its integration into the urban context, the intervention cannot be restricted to an isolated architectural project: it needs to engage with the surrounding environment.

In the adjacent outdoor spaces (the small square on Obregón Avenue and streets) interventions are proposed in order to improve usability, comfort, attractiveness and general quality of the space.

The Banco de Ideas and its surroundings as hubs for new uses. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano

The Banco de Ideas and its surroundings as hubs for new uses.

The location of the building (right next to a public parking lot surrounded by a historic façade) allows for the creation of a unique combination of interior and exterior spaces. The parking lot is incorporated as a temporary expansion space in the moments of low usage, making it possible for the Banco de Ideas to also program outdoor activities.

The four large opposite entrances facilitate themovement of people, furniture and large objects, and provide physical and visual connection through the building.

The project

The concept of an urban catalyst is translated as a hybrid building (see more examples), capable of hosting a wide variety of uses. This building typology lies halfway between the closed and the open, the public and the private, the physical and the digital.

Axonometries showing elements to be demolished (red) and to be added (green) to the Banco de Ideas. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano

Axonometries showing elements to be demolished (red) and to be added (green) to the Banco de Ideas.

The project is based on the existing building, modifying it according to six key principles: the creation of multifunctional spaces, the connection of interior spaces with surrounding public spaces, the improvement of its climatic comfort by bioclimatic design, the integration of new facilities and technologies to prepare it for innovative uses, the creation of an open and inclusive management system, and the extension of opening hours to create an almost 24/7 facility.

Explanatory diagrams of the main concepts behind the proposal for the Banco de Ideas. Hermosillo, Sonora, México. Ecosistema Urbano.

Explanatory diagrams of the main concepts behind the proposal for the Banco de Ideas.

Inside the building, the intervention focuses on improvements that will allow new programmes and increase comfort: more natural lighting and ventilation, an adaptation of the space to new needs, improved accessibility, modernization of basic infrastructures, improvements in the perception of the space, etc.

A central patio combines vertical communications, lighting and ventilation. Three open floors are created, with a flexible distribution aided by furniture and light walls.

Plant and section of the proposal. Hermosillo, Sonora, México - Ecosistema Urbano

Plant and section of the proposal.

A key action for the renovation of the building is the addition o a new façace, made with light structures and semi-opaque textiles over the existing façace. Its design allows, on one hand, to protect the structure and the main enclosure of the building from direct solar radiation, improving its climatic behavior. On the other hand, brings a renovated image to the building while maintaining part of its previous shape.

Image of the building and the surrounding spaces from the outside. Banco de Ideas de Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Ecosistema Urbano.

Image of the building and the surrounding spaces from the outside.

The key to a sustainable management

One of the main challenges is related to the reactivation and management model of the Banco de Ropa building. Improving its physical appearance or incorporating new programmes is not enough. The real challenge is to develop an ad-hoc management model that guarantees its economic feasibility and at the same time promotes its use as a public facility.

This is why it is necessary to have the support of different urban stakeholders (private entrepreneurs, civic associations, local institutions, foundations, NGO’s, volunteers, etc.) organized in an administrative and consultive committee, and a civic board that will operate the Banco de Ideas in its day to day functioning.

The public sector will provide the building on a concession basis and will provide resources for the initial materialization of the physical infrastructure. At the same time, it will facilitate its management and operation with the other public agencies involved.

Profiles identified with a view to the co-management of the Banco de Ideas.. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Ecosistema Urbano.

Profiles identified for the co-management of the Banco de Ideas.

This management model is based on good practices from different parts of the world, such as Estación Indianilla (CDMX, Mexico), Cascina Cuccagna (Milan, Italy), Infante 1415 (Santiago, Chile), Chapitô (Lisbon, Portugal) or the Scuola Open Source (Bari, Italy).

The aim is making the Banco de Ideas a self-sufficient project that generates its own economy and activity.

If you want to know more about this project, we recommend you to check the Plan Idea Hermosillo, and the document with the proposal for the Banco de Ideas, which you can read below:

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Banyan Hub | Un nuevo catalizador urbano en West Palm Beach

Category: ⚐ ES+arquitectura+ecosistema urbano+sostenibilidad

Tras ganar el concurso internacional Shore to Core,promovido por West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) y convocado por el Van Alen Institute in 2017, Ecosistema Urbano está desarrollando varias partes de la propuesta, entre ellas el visionario edificio Banyan Hub.

El proyecto Banyan Hub surge de la intuición de la ciudad de West Palm Beach y del CRA de transformar el actual Banyan Garage, un edificio de aparcamiento de los años 70 ubicado en el corazón de la ciudad, en una nueva oportunidad para activar la ciudad, un hub para decenas de nuevas actividades para residentes y visitantes.

Ecosistema Urbano ha finalizado el Schematic Design del proyecto que ha sido aprobado oficialmente por la Comisión de la Ciudad de West Palm Beach el pasado 22 de octubre. El proyecto se seguirá desarrollando en los próximos meses.

El Banyan Hub en el contexto urbano de West Palm Beach.      .

Un edificio híbrido y flexible, abierto día y noche
El Banyan Hub aglutina en un solo edificio un amplia gama de programas, desde espacios abiertos y públicos hasta áreas reservadas y privadas: tres plazas públicas con actividad comercial y un pabellón de eventos, dos plantas de centro de negocios y espacio coworking, un centro deportivo YMCA con espectaculares vistas sobre la laguna y un área residencial con diferentes tipologías de viviendas, que van desde unidades mínimas de 46 m2 hasta viviendas dúplex de 140 m2.

La gran variedad de posibilidades que ofrece el edificio tendrá un importante impacto en la forma de vivir en el centro de West Palm Beach. Los programas son complementarios entre sí, creando una red de servicios en la cual cada parte funciona de manera independiente, pero todos ellos contribuyen para ofrecer al usuario una experiencia única.
Además, el nuevo edificio no perderá su función como garaje, ya que incorporará un aparcamiento robotizado.
La sostenibilidad y el diseño bioclimático son ingredientes clave del Hub Banyan, que se caracteriza por su fachada permeable, dos patios y múltiples dispositivos climáticos activos y pasivos.

Banyan Hub | Un edificio de programa complejo rodeado por una piel verde y permeable.

Plazas urbanas: ampliar las posibilidades del espacio público y multiplicarlas por 3
El corazón público del Banyan Hub late en las tres plazas públicas situadas en diferentes niveles:

  • Una plaza flexible y permeable a nivel de calle, con un vestíbulo abierto conectado a las calles circundantes y al passageway o calle de servicios, que integra actividades de comercio y restauración además de varios espacios de servicio.

Banyan Hub | Planta de la Plaza Pública a pie de calle.

  • Una plaza cubierta al aire libre en un nivel intermedio para eventos temporales y actividades culturales, con elementos arquitectónicos espectaculares como una cascada digital interactiva y un patio verde.

Varias actividades en la Plaza Pública elevada del Banyan Hub.    .

  • Una terraza que ofrece una vista panorámica del entorno natural único de Florida y de todo el centro de la ciudad. La terraza dispone de un pabellón para albergar eventos cívicos (reuniones públicas, proyecciones, actuaciones) así como eventos privados como bodas.

Eventos en el pabellón cívico de la terraza del Banyan Hub.

Espacios públicos interconectados
Los tres espacios públicos principales se conectan para ofrecer la experiencia de un viaje dinámico a través de los diferentes entornos. La ciudad está conectada con la plaza urbana elevada del nivel intermedio a través de una escalera mecánica exterior que dinamiza la fachada del Bulevar Banyan y permite detenerse en el anillo comercial de los dos primeros niveles. Desde la plaza elevada se puede acceder a la terraza por la impresionante rampa helicoidal que rodea el patio verde.

Banyan Hub | Diseño bioclimático del edificio.

Un edificio con un corazón verde
Otros usos en el bloque central del edificio son el Business Hub y el YMCA, cada uno de los cuales ocupa dos niveles. Ambas zonas se caracterizan por la presencia del patio verde central, un espacio natural al aire libre de múltiples niveles que da continuidad a las plazas urbanas ajardinadas del edificio. Además, el patio verde tiene una función bioclimática pasiva relevante, ya que ayudaría a reducir las temperaturas hasta 5ºF y regularía la ventilación, proporcionando unas condiciones ambientales agradables durante todo el año, reduciendo su impacto ambiental y los costes de operación y gestión.

Business Hub | Trabajar en el Banyan Hub en contacto directo con la naturaleza.

Una fachada que respira
La fachada actúa como uno de los principales sistemas de acondicionamiento climático del edificio, filtrando la radiación solar directa y regulando la ventilación. Está formada por un conjunto de elementos individuales que, según las condiciones climáticas medidas a tiempo real y las necesidades del edificio, modifica su configuración. Entre la fachada y el interior del edificio existe un espacio de transición, o buffer verde, compuesto por una estructura permeable en la que crece vegetación convirtiéndose en un espacio habitable y capaz de albergar programas. Este espacio intermedio actúa como un segundo filtro natural para la luz natural y la brisa y contribuye positivamente a la regulación de la temperatura interior por evaporación.

YMCA en Banyan Hub | Pista exterior a 34 metros de altura en el Banyan YMCA.

YMCA en Banyan Hub | Nadando en el cielo en Banyan YMCA.

Vivir con vistas a la laguna
El bloque superior del edificio está dedicado a la vivienda. Las unidades residenciales están orientadas al exterior, disfrutando de unas vistas privilegiadas de la ciudad y de la laguna. Un sistema modular permite la combinación de unidades de diferentes tamaños, que van desde 46 a 140 m2. La reducida dimensión de los micro apartamentos se compensa con instalaciones comunes interiores y exteriores, específicamente concebidas para fomentar el sentido de comunidad de los residentes. Las unidades residenciales están dispuestas en torno a un patio común, donde la vegetación ayudará a refrescar el microclima interior, manteniendo los niveles adecuados de temperatura y humedad para lograr el confort de los usuarios.

Vivir en Banyan Hub | Instalaciones comunes al aire libre para los residentes.

Haciendo un aparcamiento invisible
El Banyan Hub continuará sirviendo como garaje municipal para las necesidades de la ciudad, ya que su funcionamiento es crucial para la gestión del estacionamiento del centro de West Palm Beach. Sin embargo, el estacionamiento será completamente modernizado incorporando un Aparcamiento Robotizado. Con este sistema, se mantiene el número de plazas existentes pero ocupando únicamente ⅔ del volumen utilizado en la actualidad. Además, siendo la ambición del Banyan Hub convertirse en una pieza activa de la ciudad que proyecte su vida hacia el contexto urbano, se ha diseñado una solución específica para asegurar que los usos ubicados en fachada reflejan el dinamismo del edificio. Los 4 niveles de aparcamiento están ubicados en el corazón del edificio, siendo imperceptibles desde el exterior, rodeado en sus 4 lados por dos niveles de comercio y restauración conectados por un recorrido público que da calidad arquitectónica a este espacio.

Banyan Hub | Sección transversal y alzado nocturno en Olive Ave.     .

Acerca de la Community Redevelopment Agency de West Palm Beach
Creada en 1984 y autorizada por la Florida’s Community Redevelopment Act de 1969 (F.S. 163, Parte III), la CRA de West Palm Beach es reconocida a nivel nacional como una de las Agencias de Desarrollo Comunitario (CRA) más innovadoras y efectivas del país y está estableciendo el estándar para la reurbanización. El centro de la ciudad ha experimentado un renacimiento con una inversión privada sustancial, incluyendo el desarrollo comercial y residencial. La inversión pública asciende a millones de dólares, con la construcción de una biblioteca de última generación, la revitalización del histórico Sunset Lounge, la mejora infraestructural del paisaje urbano y un frente marítimo mejorado. La CRA continúa coordinándose con la Ciudad y otras agencias para revitalizar el centro de la ciudad.

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Unveiling the latest images of the Banyan Hub | A project for a new Hybrid Building in West Palm Beach, Florida

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+mixed-use building+sustainability+work in progress

After winning the international competition Shore to Core, commissioned by the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and organized by the Van Alen Institute in 2017, Ecosistema Urbano is developing several parts of the proposal, among them the visionary Banyan Hub building.

The Banyan Hub project arises from the intuition of the City of West Palm Beach and the CRA to transform the existing Banyan Garage, a car-devoted building from the 70s in the heart of the Downtown, into a new opportunity to activate the city, a hub for dozens of new activities for both residents and visitors.

Ecosistema Urbano has finalized the Schematic Design of the project that has been officially approved by the West Palm Beach City Commission on Oct. 22. The project will be further developed in the next months.

The Banyan Hub in the surrounding context of West Palm Beach.

A hybrid and flexible building open day and night
The Banyan Hub offers in a single building a wide range of different programs, from open and public spaces to reserved and private areas. The wide variety of possibilities that the building brings will have an important impact on the way of living in West Palm Beach Downtown. The programs collaborate with one another, creating a public facilities machine in which each part works separately, but all of them work together to offer the user a superb experience of public-private spaces. The program includes urban plazas, retail and catering, rooftop pavilion, YMCA, business hub, mobility hub, housing, and city support area.
Sustainability and bioclimatic design are key ingredients of the Banyan Hub, that is strongly characterized by its breathing façade, two courtyards, and multiple active and passive climatic devices.

Banyan Hub | A complex program building enveloped by a green permeable skin.

Urban bioclimatic plazas: expanding public space possibilities and multiplying them by 3
The public heart of the Banyan Hub beats on the three public plazas located on different levels:

  • A flexible and permeable plaza at ground level, with an open hall connected to the surrounding streets and to the rear passageway, that integrates retail, catering and several support spaces.

Banyan Hub | Ground Floor Plaza layout.

  • A covered open-air plaza at an intermediate level for temporary events, including spectacular features such as a digital interactive waterfall or a green courtyard, or local programs as the farmers market.

Enjoying urban life at Banyan Elevated Urban Plaza.     .

  • A top terrace, overlooking the lagoon offering a panoramic view of the unique Floridian natural environment and of the whole Downtown. The terrace accommodates a civic pavilion to host civic events (public meetings, projections, performances) as well as private events such as weddings.

Celebrating at the Banyan Hub Rooftop Terrace.

Interconnected public spaces
The three main public spaces will be connected to provide the experience of having a chameleonic journey through different environments. The Downtown is connected to the middle level elevated urban plaza through an exterior escalator that dynamizes the façade on Banyan Blvd., allowing to stop by the retail ring at the first two levels. From the elevated plaza, it will be possible to go up to the terrace using the breathtaking helical ramp around the green courtyard.

Banyan Hub Bioclimatic Design | A green living building.

A building green in the middle
Other uses in the central block of the building are the Business Hub and the YMCA, each of them occupying two levels. Both areas feature the presence of the central green courtyard, an open-air multi-level natural space that gives continuity to the landscaped urban plazas of the building. Moreover, the green courtyard has a relevant passive bioclimatic function as it would help to reduce temperatures by up to 5ºF and regulate ventilation, providing pleasant environmental conditions throughout the year while reducing environmental impact and management and operational costs.

Business Hub | Working at the Banyan Hub in close connection to nature.

A breathing skin
The façade acts as one of the main conditioning systems of the building, filtering the direct sunlight and regulating ventilation. It is formed by an array of individual elements that present a responsive behavior, autonomously sensing the climatic conditions and the needs of the building and changing their configuration. Protected by the external shading, there is a green buffer zone, mainly comprised of a permeable structure holding vegetation and supporting varied activities. This space acts as a second natural filter for light and breeze and contributes to the regulation of the internal temperature through evaporative cooling.

YMCA at Banyan Hub | Exterior running track at 113’ at Banyan YMCA.

YMCA at Banyan Hub | Swimming in the sky at Banyan YMCA.

Living overlooking the lagoon
The upper block of the building is dedicated to housing. The residential units face out to the exterior, enjoying privileged views of the city and the lagoon. A modular system allows for the combination of units of different sizes, ranging from 500 to 1500 sq.ft. Limited living spaces of micro-units are compensated by indoor and outdoor common facilities, specifically conceived to foster the sense of community of residents. Residential units are arranged around a shared courtyard, where vegetation will help to refresh the interior micro-climate, maintaining the appropriate temperature and humidity levels to achieve comfort for users.

Living at Banyan Hub | Outdoor common facilities for residents.

Banyan Hub | Cross section and night elevation in Olive Ave.     .

Making an invisible parking
The Banyan Hub will continue to serve as a municipal garage for the city’s needs, as its functioning is crucial to parking management of West Palm Beach Downtown. However, the parking will be completely upgraded using an Automated Parking System technology. With this system, the required 350 parking spots will occupy only the ⅔ of the volume currently used by the existing Banyan garage. Moreover, as the ambition of the Banyan Hub is to be an active piece of the city that projects its active life towards the surrounding context, a specific solution has been designed to ensure that the uses along the façades reflect the dynamism of the building. The 4 levels of parking are enclosed at the very core of the building, completely hidden from the outside; these are surrounded on 4 sides by two levels of retail and catering connected by a public corridor that gives architectural quality to this space while activates it.

About West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
Created in 1984 and authorized by Florida’s Community Redevelopment Act of 1969 (F.S. 163, Part III), the West Palm Beach CRA is nationally recognized as one of the most innovative and effective Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) in the country and is setting the standard for redevelopment. The downtown core has gone through a rebirth with substantial private investment including commercial and residential development. Public investment dollars total in the millions with a state-of-the-art library, revitalization of the historic Sunset Lounge, streetscape infrastructure, and an enhanced waterfront. The CRA continues to coordinate with the City and other agencies to market and revitalize the downtown.

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Ecosistema Urbano en Argentina | proyectando con niños Santa Fe resiliente de mañana

Category: ⚐ ES+colaboraciones+ecosistema urbano+video+work in progress

Hace unos meses fuimos a Argentina, a la ciudad de Santa Fe, invitados por 100 Resilient Cities, la iniciativa impulsada por la Rockefeller Foundation cuyo objetivo es ayudar las ciudades a volverse más eficientes y adaptables frente a los retos físicos, económicos y sociales de nuestro siglo. El programa 100RC apoya la adopción e incorporación de una visión resiliente que incluye no sólo los impactos naturales como terremotos, incendios o inundaciones, sino también las tensiones que debilitan a diario o de forma cíclica el tejido de una ciudad, como el envejecimiento de la infraestructura o el desempleo.

Las ciudades que participan en la iniciativa son 100 en todo el mundo. Algunas ya han presentado sus planes, otras están actualmente en fase de desarrollo del plan. El pasado 29 de Junio Santa Fe presentó públicamente su estrategia de resiliencia, siendo la primera ciudad de Argentina y la trigésima a nivel mundial. El evento de presentación se celebró en un lugar símbolo del pasado histórico de Santa Fe, el Molino Marconetti, un ex edificio industrial reconvertido para su uso cívico y cultural, como la Estación Belgrano, otro espacio emblemático de Santa Fe, único por su escala y potencial.

Desde Ecosistema Urbano organizamos y realizamos un taller dirigido a niños de edad entre 7 y 11 años para repensar juntos el futuro del Parque del Norte. La intervención en esta área forma parte del Plan Norte, un plan prioritario para el gobierno de la ciudad, que busca ordenar el crecimiento urbano y ejecutar obras (hídricas, viales, de viviendas, de servicios, de empleo y capacitación, de educación y salud) para mejorar la calidad de vida de los vecinos. El parque implica la recuperación y valorización de 80 hectáreas de tierras ocupadas por el antiguo relleno sanitario, el Jardín Botánico Municipal y espacios verdes deteriorados; y pretende convertirse en una experiencia de gestión ambiental, integrando en el diseño diferentes proyectos de infraestructura verde y azul.

El taller se realizó en el Jardín Botánico Municipal, un área natural rica en especies autóctonas y un espacio público con un gran potencial para esta parte de la ciudad.

La actividad se organizó en 4 momentos principales:

1. Explora y descubre

Con la primera parte de la actividad buscábamos fomentar una experiencia multisensorial del espacio, motivando la exploración del área de estudio y la identificación de elementos de interés en el mismo. El objetivo era que los niños fueran capaces de identificar los lugares de oportunidad para después poder realizar propuestas de transformación para el futuro parque. Enseñamos a los niños el área del parque a través de un mapa, para que aprendieran a localizarlo en la ciudad. Después formamos grupos de entre 6 a 10 componentes para empezar la exploración del Jardín Botánico. Durante la visita buscábamos que los niños aprendieran a reconocer los diversos paisajes, por eso les pedimos que recolectasen los elementos naturales que llamaran su atención para, al terminar la exploración, usarlos en la creación de su parque ideal.

2. Imagina y describe

Después de la visita nos reunimos en una reflexión delante del mapa presentado al principio, para descubrir las actividades más demandadas para realizar dentro del parque.
A través de una sesión creativa, se les propusieron conceptos y palabras de acción (saltar, esconder, deslizar, rodar, trepar, doblar, observar, girar…), así como a palabras que describían cualidades físicas y texturas (colores, materiales, olores, sonidos…). Estos grupos de palabras funcionaron como activadores para que los niños imaginasen elementos y actividades que les gustaría que albergara el nuevo parque.

3. Crea y transforma

En la tercera parte de la actividad se invitó a los participantes a pasar a la acción trabajando en el desarrollo de propuestas. A partir de una serie de elementos que les facilitamos, en combinación con los elementos naturales recopilados en la fase exploratoria, fueron configurando su parque ideal.

4. Comparte y dialoga

En esta última parte del taller se compartieron las propuestas resultantes. Los niños fueron invitados a presentar y explicar sus ideas frente al resto, en conversación con los compañeros. La actividad pretendía promover el intercambio de ideas y ser un ejercicio de participación ciudadana. Con esta metodología conseguimos generar vínculos de trabajo colaborativo  y fomentar el diálogo y el intercambio de ideas para la co-creación.


Tras la revisión de los datos recogidos de las distintas partes de la actividad, presentamos una síntesis que recoge los temas más presentes.

Es evidente el carácter natural del parque y su condición de jardín botánico como lugar no sólo para su disfrute, sino como espacio de aprendizaje. Por otro lado, los niños entienden el parque como un espacio de expansión donde es posible realizar múltiples actividades y deportes. Muchas de sus peticiones son relativas a la necesidad de infraestructuras capaces de albergar dichas actividades.

El “kit” de participación escolar diseñado para Santa Fe es solo el último de una serie de actividades que hemos realizado para (y con) los niños durante los últimos años en diferentes ciudades del mundo. Un resumen de nuestras actividades participativas dedicadas a los más jóvenes lo podéis encontrar en este post.

Si queréis conocer más detalles de este proyecto, os dejamos el informe a continuación:

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Los 10 posts más visitados de nuestro blog

Category: ⚐ ES+ciudad+ecosistema urbano+publicaciones

Tras el parón veraniego, en ecosistema urbano hemos vuelto con las pilas cargadas y con un objetivo claro: reactivar este blog. No sólo para seguir contándoos nuestros proyectos, nuestras ideas, historias y curiosidades, sino para continuar promoviendo el debate en torno a un urbanismo más justo y sostenible.

Para abrir boca, hemos realizado una recopilación de los posts más leídos del blog (que lleva activo ¡desde el 2007!) y además hemos agregado unos cuantos posts curiosos y un par de series interesantes. Además de un interesante ejercicio de arqueología digital, esta selección nos ha invitado a reflexionar sobre qué temas tuvieron más relevancia en su momento o han ido acumulando más interés con el tiempo.

Aquí va la “cuenta atrás” de posts destacados:


Este puesto se lo lleva Presentando local_in, nuestra renovada plataforma de mapeo colectivo. Nuestra aplicación, local_in, es una plataforma de mapeo colectivo en la que los usuarios pueden añadir mensajes, fotos y enlaces geolocalizados, y clasificarlos en categorías y etiquetas completamente adaptadas a cada proyecto. Hace un par de años relanzamos esta herramienta esperando hacerla más accesible y útil a cualquier persona u organización interesada en mapear algo, y últimamente estamos planeando una nueva ronda de desarrollo que la llevará al siguiente nivel. ¡Descarga local_in, úsalo y contribuye con su desarrollo!

Local_In: Online mapping for civic empowerment


¿Cuál es el papel del arquitecto? Esta reflexión sobre el rol del arquitecto en la sociedad ocupa el puesto 9 en nuestro top 10, y además generó bastante debate. El post transparenta algunas de las dinámicas internas con las que intentamos reflexionar sobre nuestro trabajo y nuestro propio rol en la sociedad, especialmente en un momento de agitación y transformación. Ya intuíamos que no es suficiente producir arquitectura de calidad ni innovar por innovar, sino que debemos entrar en sintonía con las verdaderas necesidades de la sociedad si queremos crear ciudades más democráticas y habitables.

Rol del Arquitecto


El octavo puesto (pero con el primer puesto absoluto en pico de visitas e interacciones en redes) se lo lleva una de las ciudades temporales más grandes del mundo. Una ciudad que se construye, se mueve, se reinventa y “desaparece” una vez al año como un Fénix de sus cenizas, en medio del desierto. Su planeamiento urbano se organiza en torno de una plaza principal con una escultura o estructura (el Burning Man) que funciona como referencia para orientarse. A su alrededor la ciudad funciona, literalmente, como un reloj: Las calles se forman como sombras de un reloj de sol, de forma radial. ¿Cómo se resuelven las necesidades de su población temporal? Conoce aquí la Black Rock City | La ciudad temporal del Burning Man

Black Rock City | La ciudad temporal del Burning Man


El proyecto CUENCA RED | red de espacios dinámicos estuvo dentro del “Plan de Recuperación y Mejoramiento del Espacio Público en el Centro Histórico de Cuenca, Ecuador” en el marco de desarrollo del programa ICES (Iniciativa Ciudades Emergentes y Sostenibles), del BID (Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo) y en conjunto con el GAD Municipal de Cuenca. El centro histórico de Cuenca está incluido en la Lista del Patrimonio Mundial de la UNESCO desde 1990, ahora mismo la ciudad se enfrenta a una importante transformación hacia un nuevo modelo de ciudad, más activo, saludable y dinámico. El objetivo fue identificar las oportunidades que residen en el espacio público de esta ciudad para crear reactivar lugares, mejorar la experiencia urbana y mejorar el ambiente del centro histórico.

Cuenca Red | Red de espacios dinámicos


La posición número 6 de este conteo es el Código de Deontología del Arquitecto, Vemos la ciudad como un organismo vivo en constante transformación. Los arquitectos, y los demás profesionales que actúan sobre la ciudad, deben tener conciencia de cómo inciden en ella. Con el objetivo de escenificar estas buenas intenciones, y utilizando como base el código de deontología del médico, ofrecíamos, allá por 2010, esta versión del código ético del arquitecto, esbozando criterios que hasta hoy día venimos aplicando desde [ecosistema urbano].

Código Deontológico del Arquitecto

Código Deontológico del Arquitecto


Ecosistema Urbano gana el concurso para el Plan Maestro del Centro Histórico de Asunción. Esta buena noticia ocupa el quinto puesto. La  propuesta tenía como objetivo abordar la regeneración integral del centro de la ciudad de una forma inclusiva y convertir el proceso en una referencia, en un momento en que muchas ciudades del mundo estaban empezando a buscar otras formas de enfocar su futuro. Fue, además, uno de nuestros primeros grandes proyectos en Latinoamérica, en la que a día de hoy seguimos acumulando proyectos, experiencias y amigos.

Diagrama resumen de los distintos ámbitos y líneas de trabajo para la regeneración del CHA


La ciudad hostil: ángulos y púas contra los ciudadanos habla de cómo en las ciudades se están instalando defensas de diversos tipos contra los “sin techo”. Si decir “defensas” y “contra” os parece exagerado, sólo tenéis que echar un vistazo a algunos de los más comentados y polémicos ejemplos. Las imágenes hablan por sí solas.

La ciudad hostil: ángulos y púas contra los ciudadanos


Repensando la relación entre la industria y la ciudad (I). Cuando uno camina por ciudades de pasado industrial, suele toparse con antiguos vestigios fabriles, edificios industriales reconvertidos a nuevos usos o simplemente ruinas que esperan a ser derribadas. ¿Se puede llegar a pensar en una integración de los urbano y lo industrial si estas tendencias de incorporar la nueva industria a la ciudad se consolidan?.

Barcelona, ciudad fabril. (fuente 22@ Barcelona)


En segundo lugar tenemos una reflexión más reciente sobre los POPS y la Trump Tower | Espacios públicos de propiedad privada. Los POPS, o Privately Owned Public Spaces, son espacios exteriores o interiores provistos para uso público por una entidad o propietario privado de un edificio a cambio de una concesión en la edificabilidad del solar. La ciudad de Nueva York, por ejemplo, ha generado entorno a 525 espacios con estas características, generando un área pública total que corresponde a ¼ de Central Park. Pablo Santacana nos explica algunas de las particularidades de estos espacios en esta serie de dos artículos.

Trump Tower Foto: Carlo Allegri/Reuters


Y por último, el post más visitado de todos los tiempos en este blog: Reinventarse o Morir. Transformación de Centros Comerciales bajo el nuevo paradigma económico/urbano. El concepto de centro comercial, como lo entendemos y experimentamos actualmente, podría tener los días contados. En el post, además de un breve diagnóstico de la situación actual, lanzamos varias propuestas de reconfiguración de centros comerciales a través de la introducción de nuevos programas, en un intento por convertirlos en un espacio mucho más público.

El centro comercial, una tipología que necesita reinventarse.

El centro comercial, una tipología que necesita reinventarse.

Si quieres seguir leyendo algo más, dejamos aquí algunos artículos y series que nos hemos encontrado por el camino y nos han interesado o traído buenos recuerdos:

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Turning alleyways into active pedestrian passages | Open Shore Project

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+design+ecosistema urbano+urbanism+work in progress

Part of the Open Shore Project was to create a lively urban ecosystem nearby the shore of West Palm Beach, and one of the things that interested us the most was a dark and dirty alleyway near the Banyan Hub. When a city lacks public spaces, every corner, shore or even an alleyway can become a part of the urban ecosystem. These secondary narrow streets are unique opportunities for transformation.

This is how we proposed to activate this space:

The passageways

From Service Alleyways to Surprising Passageways

The alleyways will undergo a rapid activation process ranging from temporary interventions to the development of permanent structures and spaces to host new programs. Walkability, security, and comfort will be the first priorities to be addressed by means of active and passive climatic mitigation, new waste disposal and lighting systems, etc. Activities will disperse later into adjacent public spaces and buildings and these revamped ‘passageways’ will become thematic routes connecting different parts of the city. keep reading about the passageways!

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Banyan Hub: A new urban ecosystem for West Palm Beach | Open Shore Project

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+design+ecosistema urbano+urbanism+work in progress

The Banyan garage is envisioned as a new beacon for activities in downtown. This hybrid and flexible building will be open to the public all day long and will be an active presence in the city, producing culture, knowledge, and goods, while attracting businesses, talent, and innovation with its attractions.

Its configuration allows many different uses to coexist, which also makes it flexible to permit future changes in use.

It is a permeable building, open, and accessible to all citizens, a true part of the city from the ground floor to the public roof terrace. Its bioclimatic design, based on a green permeable facade and two big thematic courtyards -natural and digital- will provide pleasant internal climate moderation throughout the year while reducing environmental impact and management costs.

The Banyan Hub is, not only tightly connected to the street: it takes the street and its energy inside and makes it one of its core features. Folding, twisting and ramping up towards the open terrace on the roof, this new kind of street provides a unique urban-like experience inside the building, but also retains many of the features of an ordinary street.

Section of Banyan Hub, an Urban Ecosistem in the Heart of West Palm Beach

Areas of the building will be open to the public at anytime. The building may be accessed by many modes of transportation such as pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, and light vehicles. It connects different uses along its path — from businesses to cultural spaces to public plazas.

Prioritizing public accessibility is integral in ensuring that this project has a landmark presence in West Palm Beach. Banyan Hub is envisioned as an urban ecosystem where users can satisfy their wants and needs without ever having to leave the building. Banyan Hub is sure to set the tone for the future of West Palm Beach as a collaborative, sustainable, and creative city.

The Banyan Hub includes a series of public spaces located at different levels connected by a re-envisioned parking ramp which provides access to different spaces and twists around the courtyards.  

+A flexible square at ground level which consists of an open hall connected to the surrounding streets and to the passageway at the back of the building.

+A covered but open air plaza at an intermediate level of the building, right where the two courtyards begin. This space is the heart of the Hub and plays a crucial role in its climatic conditioning and cultural activity. 

+A top terrace, overlooking the lagoon which offers a panoramic view of the natural environment and of the whole downtown. Relaxing and breezy like the decks of a cruise ship, it is and an ideal place to begin a stroll through the building and along the waterfront.


One of the most important qualities of a city is the ability to evolve by changing its uses and its physical configuration according to the needs of the society that lives in it. The Banyan Hub materializes these principles as it being conceived in a way in which changeability is the only constant. It will remain open to transformation by its managers and users, embracing evolution as a way to stay useful and relevant. This will be achieved by introducing changeable programs and spaces between fixed elements, and designing movable physical delimitations and reconfigurable technical infrastructure.

Change is the only constant

The rich mix of different uses in close proximity helps create situations where activities can complement and benefit each other. This also gives a special character to each part of the building, enabling interactions that would not take place in a conventional building.

In order to become the everbeating heart of West Palm Beach, Banyan Hub will include a diverse and complementary set of programs, balancing the type of activities, desired level of comfort, need for equipment, and profile of the participants throughout the day. The scale of the Hub allows the coexistence of various uses, bringing together diverse age groups, interests, and communities.

Management & Stakeholders

The Banyan Hub operational model could be developed as a public-private partnership. The main partners could be comprised of the City, private companies, non-profits, athletic associations, and other organizations. This would beg the creation of a managing board which would share the funding, ownership, and decision making responsibilities of the building.

This board would take care of the construction and later lease spaces and equipment to other urban stakeholders. It would also create working committees for logistics and maintenance, programming, communication, and participation. It would serve as a mediation entity between institutions, the general public, entrepreneurs, and other potential partners.

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An Overview to our Latest Projects in Latin America

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+Centro Histórico Abierto+city+Cuenca Red+ecosistema urbano+Plan CHA+Plan Encarnación Más+sustainability+technologies+urbanism

During the last year we have been busy with several projects and competitions (including the latest Open Shore project for West Palm Beach) which didn’t give us the time to look back and reflect on some of our projects from the last few years.

As maybe some of our readers know, Ecosistema Urbano has been working on several large-scale projects in Latin America since August 2014 when we won a competition to develop the Master Plan of the Historical Center of Asuncion, Paraguay. In 2015, we accomplished another significant project: the participatory process Centro Histórico Abierto for the transformation of the historical center of Distrito Central, capital of Honduras. We also worked on the transformative Cuenca RED project which acted on the Public Space Reactivation Plan of the Historical Center of Cuenca, Ecuador. After the first experience in Paraguay, we had another project in the city of Encarnación, giving origin to the Plan Encarnación Más, composed by an Urban and Territorial Planning and Sustainability Plan.

In these four cases, the urban issues and the peculiar situations that required our intervention were distinct yet shared many common features. More specifically, the enthusiasm and interest shown by the people directly and indirectly involved was apparent throughout all of the projects, but also the opportunities that these experiences have given us as an architecture firm, to test ideas, tools, and methodologies.


Although they share the same area of origin, each of these cities has developed unique problems and issues. Some of these, such as the ones found in Encarnación, are physical-territorial matters such as the recent loss of the city center because of the controlled rise of the water level in the Yacyretá dam. That event led to the envisioning of a “Sustainable Development Plan” and  “Urban and Territorial Ordering Plan” in order to prepare the city for the future. In the case of Cuenca, the need for a new plan was determined by a series of big changes underway: the definition of a new model of mobility and the progressive emptying of population that afflicts the historical center, World Heritage Site since 1999, and headquarters of most of the commercial, touristic and economic city’s activities. In the case of Asunción and of the capital of Honduras, the project regards the transformation and the regeneration (both physical and social) of their historic centers. The Distrito Central is part of the development framework of the new urban axis “Choluteca River”.


1 – Participation

The first of the projects’ common keys are connected with the theme of sociability, expressed in the form of participation. The citizens’ involvement, promoted both through a series of organized activities and through online platforms, has been one of the cornerstones of our work in Latin America. We involve citizens because we believe that the citizen is the only force able to achieve a deep and lasting change in the urban environment and so they should not be just a passive receptor of the changes promoted by the city’s institutions. That’s why in some cases, as in that of Asunción with the ASU-LAB, a space was created which could serve as an interface between citizens and institutions: a place for the execution of the city planning but also an open place where each person or group can drive a new regeneration initiative or attend a course.

Organized activities with the citiziens

Organized activities with the citizens

Participatory activities, such as workshops and events, have been geared to address representative members of the city such as children, university students, “active agents”, citizens and institutions. For each of these categories we have developed, project after project, a series of ad hoc initiatives.

Participatory process in Asunción, Encarnación, Cuenca and in Distrito Central

Participatory process in Asunción, Encarnación, Cuenca and in Distrito Central

For the children we created a “toolkit” with which we had them reflect on their perception of the city and with which they could propose their ideal vision for the city. The kit consists of portions of the city map on which they could draw and that, once recomposed, could recreate the overall image.

2 – Urban actions

These activities were followed by a series of urban actions so that the results could be shown tangibly in the city. In the case of Distrito Central, ideas were gathered in a week of workshops with 80 students from the three major universities in the city and have been translated into urban actions like “Las Gradas de la Leona“. The staircases are indispensable spaces in a city with a very distinct topography as Tegucigualpa. But in the city these vertical connections are often perceived as inhospitable, dangerous, and dirty places and therefore they are cut off from any kind of activity. The students’ work was aimed at legitimizing these stairs as a public space through cleanliness,  decor,  lighting, and the organization of a series of activities that achieved resounding success and participation.

Socialization along "Las gradas de la Leona"

Socialization along “Las gradas de la Leona”

In the case of Encarnación, one of the proposals that has distinguished our approach in this project was the inclusion of a series of pilot projects that accompany and translate into concrete proposals within the “Plan de Desarrollo Sustentable” and the “Plan de Ordenamiento”. Among these, one of the most successful pilot projects was the “Proyecto Piloto Bicisienda“, whose purpose is to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants by optimizing the use of alternative mobility and by raising awareness of the value of sports and recreation. Again we have sought the cooperation of citizens by promoting a series of initiatives (such as the construction of bike lanes in the city) in which the citizens could feel protagonistic.

Proyecto Piloto Bicisienda

Proyecto Piloto Bicisienda

3 – Informative events 

The disclosure of the participatory process to the citizenship, promoted both online through the project’s platforms and through open exhibitions, is a recurring phase in all four projects. We felt it important and necessary that each phase of the process was documented and could be easily accessible to all so that the citizens could be informed about the progress made in the project. Among these, the most scenic event, realized in Tegucigualpa, Cuenca and Encarnación, was the creation of a ” mosaico ciudadano“, a wall made of post-it notes with written words, phrases, and ideas about the city.

City mosaic in the several projects

City mosaic in the several projects


Another theme of our projects in Latin America is sustainable development expressed in various forms: care and attention to the environment, the introduction of an alternative mobility system, the importance of education to the environment as an engine of sustainability, and the development of the project made in collaboration between private initiatives and institutional management. In the case of Cuenca, for example, our intervention was partly required as a consequence of the municipality’s willingness to define a new model of mobility for the historical center of the city consisting of ceasing car traffic in the center and building a new tramway system. This new model of mobility has direct implications for the current urban dynamics, as well as on the public space, as it tries to reduce the vehicular load of the city, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists. This, and the creation of quality public space, led to strengthen the social, economic, and cultural role of the city’s historical center making it more pleasant for residents and locals. Our aim is to activate a historical center that promotes social, economic, and environmental development, as well as a more livable, habitable, and inhabited historical center.

Cuenca’s plan is divided into four aspects: an urban acupuncture strategy, which proposes small / medium-scale interventions to recover areas with potential; a development of a network of active courtyards, by transforming the typical patios of Cuenca in catalysts capable of generating new synergies, connections, and interactions between residents, visitors and inhabitants; a guide to the historic center re-design, which defines the main lines for the design of the public space; a process of socialization, to define the “acopuntura” and the active patios network strategies. The intervention strategy in the square “Mary Corilè” in conjunction with the creation of “La casa en el árbol” is part of the active patios network strategy. This square is an unused and degraded space, perceived by the residents as an unpleasant and dangerous place.

The square "Mary Corilè"

The square “Mary Corilè”

Among the several interventions proposed, such as the re-furnishing of the square, traffic closure, and the design of activities in collaboration with the municipality, there’s also the creation of “La casa en el árbol“, a space included in the existing trees of the square where educational activities in relation to the theme of the environment can be carried out. “La casa en el árbol” is set up as a space to get in contact and be familiar with the nature, built in harmony with the surroundings. Inside there are several “environmental” classrooms in which one can study natural resources such as sun, wind, and water. More specifically, one can study: a system of photovoltaic panels that generate the energy needed for the lights, rainwater harvesting structures, and urban gardens as environmental and ecological experiences for schools and kindergartens. It is, ultimately, an open classroom in which a new form of pedagogy built on the respect for the environment is proposed, in order to increase awareness of the natural resources and of their use, as well as increase awareness of existing technologies.

In the case of Asunción we proposed a strategic plan with ten actions in order to promote a connection between the several parts of the city through the development of spaces, named “corridors“, and of individual buildings, named “urban catalysts“, which might act as drivers of change and benchmarks within the city. The corridors are divided into three types: those “green“, which introduce a new green infrastructure in specific parts of the existing roads; those “civic“, which consist of a new network of public spaces along the roads in order to connect the most important historic and government buildings; those “dynamic“, aimed at creating active urban environments and encourage economic and cultural activities.

Configuration of a charateristic dynamic corridor

Configuration of a charateristic dynamic corridor

Among the actions of Asunción strategic masterplan one concerns the economic and landscaping regeneration of the “Green Active Coast”. Due to its topography, this area is subject to cyclical floods because of the rising water level of the Paraguay River. That forces the inhabitants of the informal settlements who live there to move temporally. While fully respecting the identity of the river and of the existing topography, we have proposed the creation of a green lung with a large sports area in continuity with the Bicentennial Park. We also promoted the integration of the informal settlements both within the urban fabric and in the areas of new urban expansion.

The Encarnación masterplan incorporates within its own name the concept of “sustainability”, since it is composed of the “Plan of Sustainable Development” and of the “Plan of Urban and Territorial Organization”. The “Plan of Sustainable Development” will establish the standards and mechanisms for the growth and for the future development of the city according to the criteria of sustainability. The “Plan of Urban and Territorial Organization” aims at directing the use and the occupation of the territory in the urban and rural areas of the municipality. Officially, the city will face in the next twenty-four years an increase of the population amounted to 62,000 people, for whom it will be necessary to provide a massive increase in housing. The model we proposed to face this need refers to the sustainable principle of “the compact city.” Through the identification of a physical border for the city’s urban growth, we have protected the rural areas from new settlements. Moreover, we encouraged, through private and municipal initiatives, the densification of areas already developed, by filling the vacant urban lots and expanding pre-existing single-family homes.

Example of urban densification

Example of urban densification

The new interventions follow the principles of the bioclimatic architecture: large overhanging roofs and vegetation as protections from the hot summer sunlight, the use of wind to moderate the hot and humid climate of Encarnación, the reuse of rainwater, and the increase of the vegetation to absorb CO2 emissions.


In all four projects, technology represented an important collaborative tool to promote our work and to enable everyone to be constantly updated on ongoing progress, but also as a support for the participatory process, so that the involvement of the citizens would not be exhausted with the end of the activities organized, but could continue to map needs, issues, concerns and initiatives for those interested.

For this reason we have developed a platform, called Local-in (formerly What if ..?), which has been adapted to each project according to their personality and to the peculiarities of each participatory process, while maintaining a common format. Local-in is a free and accessible to everyone application of collective mapping. In it, registered users can add messages, photos and geolocalised links, sorting them into categories and labels. It’s easily installable and customizable, in perfect harmony with the spirit of the projects themselves, and it can be found for each project under the name “AsuMAP” for Asunción, with the name “Encarnación Más” for Encarnación, as “Cuenca RED” for Cuenca and with the name “Centro Histórico Abierto” for Distrito Central.