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introduction Edit

The project seeks to construct a Cultural Factory in Atucucho, a settlement in the north of Quito (Ecuador). Developed through a unique alliance that brought together a local youth group from Atucucho (Cofradía), its autonomous Government and Community Bank, a research group from the University of Manchester and an Ecuadorian architectural practice devoted to social interventions (Al Borde), the Factory intends to gather, test and disseminate popular building technologies in deprived settlements in Quito. With a focus on the reclamation and reuse of concrete cylinders, the Factory will provide building solutions for incremental architectures in Atucucho. The initiative prefigures a form of urban development that accentuates the direct involvement of local organisations in the production and construction of social habitat, confronting models that have turned the transformation of peripheral settlements into a new terrain for rapid capital accumulation.

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the core team Edit

Funded by the ESRC (UK research council), the original project set out to invesrtigate popular construction practices in deprived settlements in Ecuador. One of the aims was to identify and describe the role voluntary and co-operative labour played in the development of incremental architectures of urban peripheries. As an output of this investigation, we identified and mapped local actors associated with construction practices in the neighbourhood and crafted a catalogue of the material flows in Atucucho. The project registered the role hardware stores, improvement committees, the local comunity bank, the authonomous government and local organisations were playing in the settlement's physical transformation.

This initial research provided the foundations for the second stage of the project which sought to democratise access to and redistirbute the benefits from construction practices in Atucucho. Three local actors were interested in establishing a local construction cooperative: the youth organisation Cofradía, the community bank of Atucucho and its autnomous government. In addition, the research team from the University of Manchester (Material Politics) and the Ecuadorian social architecture group, Al Borde, agreed to participate in the development of the project, contributing technical expertise and providing initial financial support through research grants.

Youth organisation, Cofradía: the group is made out of 20 youth members. They were set up 6 years ago. The group has a wide experience in conducting social activities in the settlement. In addition, all of the group members work in the construction industry. The group members have worked in different construction sites across Quito, normally on hourly contracts. The group proposed to combine cultural activities with construction practices.

Community Bank of Atucucho: the Bank of Atucucho was set up as a saving organisation focusing on providing financial assistance for housing improvements. Juan Tenorio, the Bank manager will provide commercial assistance to the youth movement.

Al Borde, architectural practice: an award-wnning practice, Al Borde is devoted to shifting design processes by establishing mechanisms of exchange and procurement regimes that outstrip the rigid parameters of monetary payments. Al Borde will provide technical assistance throughout the build.

Material Politics:is an architectural research practice based at the Manchester School of Arcthiecture (University of Manchester). Material Politics was in charge of conducting material ethnographies in Atucucho and developing the socio-political foundations for the proyect. Material Politics will focus on incremental interventions and the process of construction. 

what is still needed and why Edit

Sand, cement and mesh: building retention walls for the facotry.

Loading truck: collection and delivery of concrete cylinders from Faculties of Engineering in downtown Quito.

We envision using the side of one wall to inscribe all those organisations that supported the project: painting concrete cyllinders as a sign of appreciation.  

Design input:

The design for the project has been co-produced, with members of the youth movement, the community bank, al borde and material politics. The design process evolved through sketches, drawings, models and a documentary (for an online version of the latter, please see



Work force:

Workforce will be provided by the youth movement of Atucucho. Funding to support their activities is needed. 

Funding support:

The design of the Cultural Factory of Atucucho has been finalised and co-produced with the youth movement, the local community Bank, Al Borde and Material Politics. A strategy to sustain and expand the Factory has been drawn and agreed. Currently, the your group has finalised the first stage of construction: clearing and preparing site and completion of the first wall of concrete cylinders. Designed as an incremental intervention, the site now stands as a recuperated public square.

We are seeking funding to complete the project. With us$15.000 we hope to provide the neigbhourhood of Atucuho with a vital platform to support popular construction practices and labour in the community. The financial resourses will be used to pay for transport costs associated with the recuperation of concrete cylinders from four different Faculties of Engineering in downtown Quito. In addition, we hope the funding can be used to support the youth group, allowing them to engage full-time in the construction of the Factory. The architectural practice Al Borde has sourced sanitary equipment, building material for windows and doors. Additional funding will be required for sand, cement and timber. The tiles for the roof will ber produced on site by the youth movement.



The project will greatly benefit from promotion and dissemination. The ultimate aim of the project is for other settlements in Quito and across Ecuador, to develop their own factories, securing the benefits from construction processes and democratising access to building materials and technologies. We believe projects like the Cultural Factory of Atucucho illustrate the importance of protecting and enhancing popular construction practices, particularly in developing countries. The project could be used as a case study for infrastructural projects in different geographical conditions, where an improvement in the socialisation of building practices could help to foster more socially sustainable communities. 

impact Edit

The aim is for the Factory to develop into a sustainable co-operative platform, affording job security to the local youth movement. The Factory will be established as a non-for profit organisation, serving a dual purpose for the community. Firslty it will provide construction services to the community. Focusing around the use of the concrete cylinders as a building material, the youth movement will offer and provide building advice and labour for local projects. In addition, and through a direct partnership agreed with the autonomous government of Autucuho, the cyllinders will be adapted to serve as paving blocks for local streets that lack asphalt solutions. Secondly, the Factory will serve a cultural purpose. The spatial program for the site allows for a space to hold seminars where seminars regarding popular building technologies and practices will be held. The dissemination of the practices and knowledges developed in the Factory is an integral part of the project. Sapce for community gathereings are restricted to the community centre adjencent to the Bank, the local government offices and improvised arrangements and settings provided by religious institutions. The ambition is for the Cultural Factory of Atucucho to pave the way for the creation of a federation of Factories in the north of Quito addressing the need to democratise access to the production and circulation of building materials. In addition, the open patio planned for the Factory, will be preserved as a public square, transforming the Factory into a communal space. The Factory of Atucucho will serve as a platform to support popular construction practices, consolidate networks of co-operation across northern settlements and redistribute the benefit stemming from building processes.


collaborators Cultural Factory
Project details
Project name: Cultural Factory of Atucucho
Description: A Factory for the development of popular construction practices
Category: infrastructure
Design: Material Politics, Al Borde, Atucucho youth movement
Consultants: Al Borde, Material Politics, Bank of Atucucho
Building status: proposal (Buildify submission)
Construction period: July 2015 - May 2017
Demolished: Site has been cleared
Needs: supply, design input, work force, funding support, promotion
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Coordinates: 0°7'37.9'' S, 78°30'46.4'' W
Tags: community practice, recycled recources, incremental development, infrastructure, manufacturing processes
Project ID: 623
Published: 18 September 2016
Last updated: 12 October 2016
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