Innovative buildings renew Quito's skyline

Daniela Brik
Top architects have set their sights on Quito with projects that are changing the city's skyline

The urban landscape in Ecuador's capital Quito is being renewed through innovative high-rise buildings and interior designs conceived by world-renowned architects.

Bjarke Ingels from Denmark, Richard Meier from the United States, Peruvian Bernardo Fort Brescia, Frenchman Jean Nouvel and Israeli-Canadian Moshe Safdie are some of the top architects who have set eyes on Quito with important projects that are changing the city's skyline.

The new architectural projects have been made possible by Quito's airport moving outside the city limits and because of the construction of the metro, creating new opportunities for real estate development.

"By moving the airport out of Quito, urban planning is completely changing ... new urban growth patterns are taking shape," Tommy Schwarzkopf, head of the Uribe & Schwarzkopf (U&S) architectural firm, told EFE.

Schwarzkopf said Quito has been put on the map and that the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize could even set eyes on some of the city's buildings.

This week, U&S will inaugurate two projects built in collaboration with the Yoo design company, including a 22-storey wavy-contoured building with an imposing roof terrace where tenants and visitors can enjoy the exceptional view, gardens, a jacuzzi and recreation areas.

"Since it is on a hill in front of the Quito hotel, the building's terrace is the highest point in the city," Schwarzkopf said, claiming proudly that "this is the best building constructed in Latin America."

Sustainability is a key concern for U&S with 30 per cent of the building's surface made up of green spaces that include some native plants to attract local wildlife like bees and hummingbirds. The building is also energy efficient and rain water is reused to water plants.

U&S has faced criticism because their projects could contribute to increasing land and property values.

Nevertheless, Schwarzkopf pointed out that Quito is the second South American capital with the lowest property values per square metre, only after Caracas.

As an example of the growing interest that the city has sparked among world-renowned architects, Moshe Safdie is travelling to Ecuador to consider collaborating in the construction of a green building on one of Quito's main avenues.