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Instructor:  Ana María Durán Calisto
Location: Tena and Quito, Ecuador
Dates Abroad: May 10 - June 13, 2014

As part of its decentralization policy and in order to achieve a shift in the productive matrix (from an extraction and mono-culture economy to another one based on the provision of added value products and services), the Ecuadorean government is investing heavily in education, through the Senescyt scholarship program, the Prometeo project, a new Education Law, and the development of educational infrastructure: the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (Institute for Higher Learning National Studies), the Millenium Schools and three new university campuses that are going to be built in three regions that have been marginalized historically. Yachay: the City of Knowledge is being planned in the Northern Andes of Ecuador (Urcuquí); the School for Training in Education (Universidad Nacional de la Educación) will be deployed in Azoguez, close to Cuenca and the Pacific port of Machala; and IKIAM: the Regional Amazonian University -focus of this studio- will be erected close to Tena, an oil boom town located in Andean Amazonia.

The design of IKIAM is being awarded through a bid process that followed a design competition. In this moment of transition, the opportunity to develop a synergy between academia, with its freedom to be speculative and experimental; and reality, which always poses a set of restrictions, is ideal. This studio will revise the tenets of the three finalist projects, and to critique them through the proposal of alternative modes of intervention in a vulnerable ecology such as the Ecuadorean Amazon.

We expect the studio to decant in a series of large scale models, some of them 1:1, that document the exploration with materials, joints, tissues, structures, and their properties. A key component of the studio will be the vernacular structure that we expect to build with an indigenous community in order to thoroughly understand the logic of Amazonian construction methods and the choice of materials. This initial exercise will be complemented with further, contemporary developments of hybrids inspired in the initial contact with local culture.

Mónica Ponce de León will not be traveling to Ecuador. Ana María Durán Calisto will be leading the travel portion, while Monica will be participating in the Ann Arbor portion.

Ana Maria Duran Calisto

Ecuadorian architect, researcher, educator and writer. She co-funded the design firm Estudio A0 in 2002, with her partner Jaskran (Jazz) Singh Kalirai, in Quito, Ecuador. She currently teaches at the School of Architecture, Design and Arts of Universidad Católica del Ecuador and has been a design studio critic at the GSD (Harvard University) and the GSAPP (Columbia University). In the year 2010, she was endowed a Loeb Fellowship in order to develop an open research network for South America (SAP-The South America Project) with Felipe Correa. She directed and conceptualized the XV Quito Pan-American Architecture Biennale: Visible Cities (2004-2006); she redesigned cipArq (the School for the City, Landscape and Architecture of Universidad Internacional) as its Dean (2008-2009); and co-founded the Estuardo Maldonado Foundation with the purpose of providing a platform for contemporary art in her country (2005). She edited the book Beyond Petropolis: Designing a Practical Utopia in Nueva Loja with Michael Sorkin and Matthias Altwicker (2006-2011). Her essays have been published in diverse magazines (Harvard Design Magazine, RADAR, Plot, 30-60: cuaderno latinoamericano de arquitectura, CITE, AULA, GAM, TRAMA, Clave) and books (Thinking Practice; Restructuring from Within; Reimagining Mumbai´s Back Bay; A Lines in the Andes). She participated in the exhibitions "La escala prevalence" (Scale prevails) and "Post Post Post: Young Latin American Architecture". In 2010, Ediciones de la Línea Imaginaria published Cuerpojo Azul, her first poetry book. Her research endeavors focus, since 2003, on unveiling the processes of urbanization in traditionally remote ecologies like the Amazon River Basin and the Galapagos Islands; understanding the impact of the infrastructural integration of South America (IIRSA/COSIPLAN); and studying the forces shaping contemporary Latin American design practices. She is currently Advisor to Inmobiliar (Real-estate Management Agency of Ecuador), National Delegate for the 2014 Iberian-American Architecture and Urbanism Biennial (BIAU) as well as member of the Academic Committee of the 2014 Quito Architecture Biennale (BAQ).

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