The Habitat III conference was organized in 2016 by the United Nations General Assembly in Quito to enact a New Urban Agenda. For this occasion, the Urban Design Lab was invited to contribute a project to the Habitat Village, an initiative displaying innovative urban projects in the streets of Quito during the event. We decided to exhibit our hands-on methodology by implementing a concise version of the Urban Design Lab in the neighborhood of La Mariscal. The initiative focused on the need to create new centralities identified by the Metropolitan Institute of Urban Planning (IMPU) of Quito, and was organized in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Arts (FADA) of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Ecuador (PUCE).
The neighborhood of La Mariscal was once one of Quito’s traditional residential districts bordering the historic city center. Over the past decades, it has been affected by what locals define as “tourism gentrification“, a process during which residential uses have been displaced by commercial activities catering to tourism. The Urban Design Lab was set up in “El Cubo”, a temporary project space intended to activate the Plaza Borja Yerovi. During the week of Habitat III we organized a series of activities that provided insights into the current situation of the neighborhood. These activities included interviews, a series of community workshops, a creative workshop, a market with local products, a neighborhood party and an urban film festival showcasing international movies about urbanism.
The strategy proposes five interventions on different urban scales, both at the spatial and organizational levels, and integrating different stakeholders in the process of revitalization. Short-term interventions seek to animate public space, promote cultural activities and enhance social cohesion while long-term strategies will address the need to bring residential uses back to the neighborhood, create affordable housing options and diversify the commercial offer. As a short-term action plan, the “Cube” was a test to activate the Borja Yerovi Plaza by means of a market, night activities, public screenings and so on. It brought neighbors together, enabling them to organize themselves in a better way.
Authors: Roland Krebs, Markus Tomaselli, Christof Mathes, Tamara Egger, Horacio Terraza