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introduction Edit

The Palenque Cultural Tambillo, located in the mangrove forests of northwestern Ecuador, will provide a socio-historically sensitive civic space dedicated to further cultivating the intergenerational transmission of the artistic culture of the Afroecuadorian community. These at risk musical and dance traditions are inscribed as part of the UNESCO list of the intangible heritage of humanity. This project will directly benefit the over 600 children who currently participate in the Incrustados en el Manglar musical group. Work with local leaders has led to the design of the Palenque as an important hub for artists, artisans and community workshops concerning social and environmental issues that affect the town of Tambillo and its neighbors.

Our 7 Goals With This Project

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the core team Edit

The Tambillo community, and the larger Afro community in Esmeraldas, has received this project with open arms. The work that the Ochún Foundation has done for the last 20 years in communities such as Tambillo engenders good will and has established a solid network of local leaders in politics, music, dance, education and other areas. Due to the relationship with Malena Solís, the parochial president, the salaries of the local workers in the construction will be assumed by the parochial government. This has been calculated at $30,000 which is a large but worthwhile sacrifice in a time of recession in Ecuador's economy. The county government of San Lorenzo has pledged $15,000 and assistance with materials such as concrete and gravel. Many landowners in Tambillo have also pledged materials such as wood, palm leaves and sand.

The Incrustados en el Manglar group, aside from opening the door to their homes and rehearsals, have been an invaluable part in dreaming and designing this project. Hector Ortíz and Alfredo García have tirelessly explained the cultural history of Tambillo and organized interviews and workshops with community elders, children and musicians in Tambillo and the neighboring towns.

Our model of design is based on long term investigation that results in precise well studied projects that have long term projections of social and economic sustainability. The design team of Caá Porá Architects, Siete86 Architects and Ingenieria Alternativa is composed of:

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what is still needed and why Edit

The Palenque Tambillo Project is an attempt to sustainably source local materials as much as possible. This initiative will introduce new technologies as part of the construction and will promote the adoption of and innvoation with traditional technologies. In order to realize these goals we would like to work with the two local master carpenters in Tambillo in an effort to train new apprentices on the job. This will be possible with access to better tools and working conditions. Donations of simple woodworking tools such as hammers and saws are useful. More industrial tools such as wood planers, table saws, routers, band saws would allow for much of the precision milling of wood to be done in Tambillo rather than in the neighboring city of San Lorenzo thereby reducing transport costs. These tools would be donated to the center to be used in the musical instrument and craftworks woodshop. Any donations would be given recognition with a commemorative plaque on the building and any other media that this project appears in. 

Funding support:

The construction budget for this project is $114,000. In order to pay for crowdsourcing and accounting fees we will be adding $16,000 to the budget to arrive at a total of $130,000. We have received pledges from the parochial government of $30,000 dollars in wages for local workers and $15,000 and a to be determined amount of materials such as concrete and gravel from the county government. We are currently organizing an international crowdsourcing campaign with assistance from CEPP, an ecuadorean non-profit with 501(c)(3) status in the United States. We have been working on developing a network of donors but it is our first time pursuing this type of financing for a project. Any assistance from people with experience in crowd funding would be welcomed. We are also interested in pursuing relevant grants from governments and international aid organizations for the Tambillo project and the Palenque project as a whole. Guidance regarding this type of funding would be appreciated as well. We would love to know of any other alternative financing methods.

The $85,000 that we raise will be used to pay for materials both local and brought from Quito, and administrative/travel/workshop costs. We have organized rewards with the community for the crowdsourcing campaign. We can also offer help with accessing the local network of community leaders that we have developed with the Ochún Foundation for organizations that are interested in working in these areas.


This project and more importantly the people that it will serve would benefit from media exposure for the purpose of spreading the message of their culture and artistic expressions. We are working with the Ochún Foundation and a multidisciplinary team of anthropologists, educators, musicians and film makers to create an Anthology of the Marimba which will provide an academic framework for the Palenque project. The Afro population in Ecuador has been chronically marginalized in the public awareness here and internationally. Any assistance with increasing awareness about the societal and ecological riches and challenges of these communities would be appreciated. We can offer our time and access to our network of contacts to any journalists who would like to travel here to work on these themes. We can also as write articles, conduct interviews and make multimedia as needed.

impact Edit

This project is a step towards a new future in Tambillo that promotes an idea of modernity that evolves from a dialogue between their unique traditions and their current situation rather than the wholesale adoption of standardized building practices, schooling and "first world" cultural iconography. Through the construction of a cultural center traditional, more environmentally relevant building techniques can be revalorized and further developed with the inclusion of new materials and innovative constructive processes. This building becomes not only a protective shelter for cultural development and the fostering of self identity of these youth, but also an educational process for builders, designers and children alike that will lead to new economic and social opportunities. The use of environmentally friendly, inexpensive materials such as earth and sustainably harvested wood in a earthquake resistant manner will provide alternatives to materials that are destructive, expensive in this context and short lasting in this climate such as CMUs. The carpenters and laborers will be trained in skills with wood and earth construction that are in higher demand following the mass destruction of concrete housing in the recent earthquake on the coast of Ecuador.

The social impact of the Palenque has already been felt before the construction has even begun. The design process has given birth to ideas concerning community tourism, the creation of an Incrustados en el Manglar foundation to channel funds to locally significant social, ecological and education projects, and increasing local interconnection and economic potential by having performances in an inviting context. In addition to these plans for a better future, the Palenque will immediately help with a large problem that Tambillo faces because the local school does not have enough teachers for the children to have a full day of school. The youth will now be able to spend the other half of the school day in a community organized cultural education program that will foster skills that complement their standard curriculum.

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collaborators Palenque Tambillo
Project details
Project name: Palenque Tambillo: Afroecuadorian Cultural Center
Description: An innovative Cultural Center in the mangroves of Ecuador
Category: meeting place
Design: Caá Porá Architects and Siete86 Architects
Consultants: Patricio Cevallos and The Ochún Foundation
Building status: proposal (Buildify submission)
Needs: supply, funding support, promotion
Location: Tambillo, Ecuador
Coordinates: 1°15'53.7'' N, 78°53'4.5'' W
Tags: community, education, value creation, unesco, Buildify accelerator
Project ID: 652
Published: 22 September 2016
Last updated: 3 December 2019
(images have individual licenses)
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CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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