Over the past several years, the capital of Ecuador has quietly seen major residential projects by such global heavy hitters as Arquitectónica, Philippe Starck and Marcel Wanders dot its cityscape. More buildings by the likes of Denmark’s BIG, France’s Jean Nouvel and Boston-based Safdie Architects are currently under construction in Quito and its environs.
“Their work here has elevated the creative playing field for everyone,” says Joseph Schwarzkopf, scion of Uribe & Schwarzkopf, the ambitious local development firm that has engaged the star designers above (plus such dynamic homegrown practices as Diez + Muller Arquitectos) to build more high-rises on its home turf.
Schwarzkopf’s objective is a denser Quito, which, in its own way, is also a goal of El Sindicato Arquitectura, an experimental young firm composed of three principals — Xavier Duque, María Reinoso and Nicolás Viteri — with an unusually positive outlook on mooching.
Their so-called Parasitic House — a 12-square-metre A-frame structure featuring a compact yet flexible living and working area underneath a cozy sleeping loft — is designed to sit atop an existing building, whose water, waste and electrical connections it would also tap into. The atypical starter home is “focused on solving the basic habitation needs of a person or young couple,” say the architects, whose ideal settings are “underused urban rooftops.”
For privacy, frosted glass covers the south facade of the prototype shown here, while a large picture window provides natural light and panoramic views on the north side. Between the exterior steel panels and the OSB covering the walls and floors inside is a 12-centimetre void filled with coconut-fibre insulation.
Of course, Parasitic House is a considerably humbler domicile than the Bjarke Ingels apartments going up not too far away. But that isn’t to say it’s any less significant. As in many other cities, there is room and necessity enough in Quito these days for both BIG and little gestures.
This 12-square-metre A-frame by the experimental firm El Sindicato Arquitectura is designed to sit atop an existing building and taps into its resources.