Outside of its UNESCO-listed historic center, the Ecuadorian capital has become a magnet for such international "starchitects" as Jean Nouvel, Bjarke Ingels, and Carlos Zapata. But for Quito architects Daniel Moreno Flores and Marie Combette, the projects that represent the city’s emerging design ethos come from a different cohort.
"Quito’s young designers are motivated to make significant changes for the city by emphasizing local resources, social concerns, tradition, and artisan capabilities," Flores says. "As global cities become more homogenized, it’s an act of cultural conservation to understand the place where we live and take advantage of regional resources."
Flores and Combette’s Quito-based firm, La Cabina de la Curiosidad, designs unconventional spaces in and around the city. Their projects prioritize reused materials, such as shipping containers, as well as locally sourced mediums.
"There is an ancestral intelligence in knowing how to occupy the materials from our territory, such as fibers, cottons, wood, or recyclables," Combette says. She cites eucalyptus wood—which grows abundantly in Ecuador—as one traditional resource embraced by younger designers.
The duo point to La Floresta, La Tola, and the historic center as "Quito neighborhoods with a lot of creative energy and strong Indigenous roots," calling out galleries such as +ARTE and No Lugar.
"There’s a healthy spirit of companionship between the local architects, designers, and other creatives," explains Flores, whose peers include Ecuadorian architects Aquiles Jarrin and Felipe Escudero, as well as firms like Diez+Muller.
"There’s a willingness to be part of a network that shares knowledge, generates debate, and sustains community based on cultural conservation," Combette says. "We can have our own contemporary design language that’s in dialogue with tradition."
"Quito is a city with a lot of constantly transforming energy, and many of the ideas that young design teams are generating are aimed toward seeking the common good."
—Marie Combette, La Cabina de la Curiosidad
Jarra by 162 | Atelier de Cerámica
Consola Maria by Lomé
Boa Duo by Mathieu de Genot
Credit: Photo captions written by Adrian Madlener
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