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2018 MCHAP

Renacer de Chamanga Community House

Actuemos Ecuador

Chamanga, Ecuador

October 2016


Actuemos Ecuador


Carolina Rodas (Main contact with Chamanga community)


Chamanga community - Lisethe Godoy




The project consists on developing a community center for Chamanga through design and construction participatory processes. Community workshops were developed in order to understand and prioritize people's needs; these activities served as a base for the design. The workshops also allowed us to understand about local resources and the workforce existing in the shelter. This first stage was vital for the community, as they had to learn building processes that later would help them complete their comunal area. From the beginning, the idea was to support the community organization processes in activities such as reconstruction, mingas (community work), and workshops. These activities, well implemented, can boost the internal economy of the population because they will take better advantage of the government as well as the private aid. The project was considered as a wide roof that shelters diferent activities planned by the community. The basic intentions were to revalue the local materials and the safe construction systems, also to empower people through collective work during the building trade. For this, guadua cane structure was proposed which was assembled by simple joints, which allowed a non-specialized workforce to buid it. A large percentage of the cane was donated by near farms, and the process of harvesting and treating the cane was done by the community. For the foundation, we used a system of recycled tires and concrete. Teak logs and chopped cane were used in the floor and for the roof some zinc sheets along with cane.


After the April 2016 earthquake, several civilian groups from other cities organized themselves to send help to the affected áreas. This is how Actuemos Ecuador was born. We are an organized and independent group of approximately 40 firms of architects, designers, engineers, among others, that provide professional help and consultancies for earthquake-affected communities. We count on more than 200 professional volunteers that help in tasks such as raising funds, to others like building along with the communities. This particular project was developed in the un-official New Jerusalem shelter, which is in San José de Chamanga - Esmeraldas. This is one of the most affected areas by the 2016 earthquake. The area where the project is settled corresponds to a community land that was previously donated to the neighborhood. The shelter housed 30 families with a total of 170 people. This community was well organized, but its only need was to have a communal space that could host several collective activities and could be the area from which other projects can develop. The Project began with community workshops, from where the main Project directives were generated. The complete design of the community center was proposed with an approximate area of 180 m2. Cane and wood were mainly used because they were found nearby and could easily be worked with by artisan and un-experienced workforce.


Throughout the Project process, the refugee's community strengthened their organization and participated actively in the design and construction processes. This not only provides a sense of interest in the Project but a sense of appropriation for it. The collaboration between the community and the professionals lead to ideas and Cultural Exchange, which enriched both ends. Since the Project was built, the refugee's community has hosted workshops to develop social, dwelling and local-economy projects. They have completed furniture and playground for children. Also, they are planning to close one part of the community area for textile work, which will allow women to develop an economical task and to provide for their families. It is important to remember that most of the people are still living in shelters, despite public and private efforts. Which is why the effort of this community to rebuilt their community by themselves is gigantic.

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