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Bardales Urban Training Center

José Fernando Gómez Marmolejo

Babahoyo, Ecuador

August 2020


José Fernando Gómez Marmolejo


Jhonatan Andres Andrade Diaz


Carlos Bardales


JAG Studio


Bardales was developed with limited resources, where both technical and material solutions were designed as it became available; it can be said that the limitation was an important source of creativity, to design with what is necessary. In this way, local labor, materials from the region, and a system of hybrid structures - between wood, concrete, and metal - were included, allowing us to adjust to the needs and possibilities.

The project is configured and delimited by sidewalls of concrete blocks and exposed brick. At the inside of the project the areas are distributed in weight, dance, cardio, and boxing activities, added to an integration terrace on the top floor of the building. This idea of ​​heterogeneous activities drives the decision to avoid dividing walls - except for the bathrooms-, creating a connection between activities, horizontally and vertically. The front end avoids the use of glass since it is solved with an 8m high mobile wooden lattice system, allowing control of ventilation, solar incidence, and rain. In this way, not only is thermal control and safety guaranteed, but users are encouraged to have more direct contact with the neighborhood.

In order to lower the construction cost, the project has reused partitions, beams, and columns that were initially designed for a four-story building, forming the new training space. In addition, a barter was established between the project team and the clients, where the design and construction were basically exchanged for free access to the gym.


Babahoyo is a coastal city, surrounded by rivers and a dense economical population. Eventhough to it´s high and diverse activities, there is an obvious lack of urban equipment where people can gather and meet each other. The absence of this type of space could result in an increase in the perception of insecurity.

The project has transformed a one-story residential house into a permeable urban training center. The residential space was previously occupied by a young couple of gym-owners who decided to exchange part of their living environment, in order to generate a common training area, aiming to encourage collective athleticism and productivity.

In this way, the sense of community is strengthened, with the city developing from the decisions, agreements, exchanges and ventures of each inhabitant. It is an idea that energizes and integrates a group eager to connect with their city and its possibilities of generating community.


We believe that one of the key points of the project was its adaptation to the time of the pandemic. Due to its correct and constant ventilation and lighting, Bardales was able to stay open from the first months of the health crisis. The health entities described the project as a space that met the city's health control requirements and was able to continue its activities.

Having said this, we can affirm that the performance of the project has gone much better than expected.We don't know if consciously or unconsciously, but people enjoy the double-height space, the interior textures and the possibility of running and exercising in front of an 8-meter-high open space.

Beyond the possibility of exercising in a different way, we believe that the great gift goes to the city and its walkers by being able to visualize an architecture that little by little begins to identify them as a community.

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