09 Jun 2020 • Lauren Grace Morris
Arquitectonica, Marcel Wanders and YOO design a Quito residential complex inspired by local creativity
Arquitectonica, Marcel Wanders and YOO and architectural developer Uribe Schwarzkopf teamed up to bring a new addition to the Ecuadorian capital’s skyline by way of Oh, a 6,870-m2 mixed-use residential tower housing 102 apartments. The Quito complex is comprised of two separate buildings – one 18 storeys and the other 17 – which are joined by a lobby and skybridge. The project highlights local design, architecture and craft, while showcasing the biodiversity of the city through an ample embrace of greenery.
The residential complex maximizes its location, offering sweeping views while complementing the buildings also situated on Avenue González Suárez, an area renowned for its architectural heritage. Arquitectonica co-founder Bernardo Fort-Brescia explains that Oh is ‘designed to embrace both the impressive history of Quito’s architecture and craftsmanship, as well as its stunning natural surroundings’. Arquitectonica took cues from the work of modernist leaders including Milton Barragán, Karl Kohn, Ovidio Wappenstein and Diego Ponce, whose structures ‘defined the previous century of residential building’ in Quito.
Responsible for the interiors of Oh, Dutch designer Marcel Wanders and YOO committed to working with Quito’s creatives from the start of the project. The work of local visual artist Belén Mena was one major reference – abstract patterns utilized in Oh’s visual identity are inspired by a design of Mena’s depicting the wings of a moth native to the region. These graphics can be seen on wallpapers, floor tiles and facades throughout the whole of the building.
For the lobby space Wanders devised two large columns as an homage to the basket-weaving handicraft. Produced locally, the woven structures are constructed from recycled materials, like moss-inspired carpets which adorn the space. These textile pieces were commissioned by Olga Fisch Folklore, a company founded 70-plus years ago in Quito by the Bauhaus-trained Olga Fisch, a WWII refugee. Fisch’s mission was to ‘professionalize the business of traditional craftsmen and preserve Ecuador’s artisan heritage’.
The communal spaces also include a lobby-adjacent meeting room, indoor pool, sauna and steam room, squash court, fitness centre, roof terrace, party and dining room, outdoor barbecue area and a spot children and teens, fitted with furnishings from international brands and designers. Eco-efficiency being a priority for the collaborators, Oh was built using ‘materials of the lowest ecological impact available locally’. The complex’s own energy is sourced to power its hallways, pathways and outdoor areas, while the green terraces were thought out to ‘reduce the heat from the island effect of large cities’.
‘Quito presents exciting opportunities for interior design,’ says Wanders, ‘especially due to the quality of local craftsmanship and materials, and the willingness to experiment. As with all of the projects YOO has done with Uribe Schwarzkopf in Quito – this is our third – we are able to design without restrictions and dream big, and then work with the team on the ground to invent new ways to achieve the desired aesthetic with local talent and materials.’
Read about more residential projects here.