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2018 MCHAP.emerge

San Telmo Apartments

ERDC Arquitectos

Quito, Ecuador

September 2017


ERDC arquitectos


Concimento Cia Ltda. (Economic managment and feasibility)


Concimento Cia Ltda


Pablo Puente Rodríguez


This Project contains 22 housing units which are divided into 4 blocks which are placed into generous green, recreative and communal spaces. We have extrapolated the concept of individual housing (with a garden and ground area to extend to), to a system that enhances these possibilities of occupation and expansion. The project is developed in height so the ground floor space can be used to hold bigger green areas. The blocks are also separated from the site borders to enhance natural lighting. Each apartment contains 3 bedrooms, 2 complete bathrooms, a kitchen and a social area; as a response to the average family group in Ecuador (4 members). Through design, we are re-valuing materials that are commonly used because of their availability and price but underrated because of their looks. By removing unnecessary layers we reduce costs and improve the construction’s quality, without neglecting comfort. We use exposed brick walls, metal structure, first quality exposed installations, OSB fixed furniture with lap joints and OSB/eucalypt timber interior walls. Instead of eucalypt (introduced species), we are planting native vegetation to attract endemic fauna. The project is adaptable to the user’s needs; the timber walls are removable and can be reused. Also, each apartment has a double-height balcony which allows controlled expansion, and because of the apartments’ layout, the 2 extra rooms can be sold among neighbors (space expansion or reduction). All of these, plus free areas on the ground floor (for future local businesses) increase the Project adaptability and flexibility through time.


San Telmo apartments is a housing project located in a rural area called “Los Chillos valley” in the city of Quito. However, it is less than 20km away from the center of the city and it is connected by 2 main highways. This proximity makes it a target place for the city growth. The project is placed in a natural context surrounded by single-family houses, large plots of land and by a beautiful mountain landscape. The built footprint of the project is only 79% of the available land. The remaining 21% is occupied by native species of bushes, flowers, grass, and trees, promoting the continuity of the local wildlife, without affecting the water consumption (local species survive by exclusively taking rainwater). This Project was developed under the framework of a public-private alliance, which offers loans at 4.87% interest rate and up to 20 years financing (better than regular banks), for affordable housing projects priced up to $70000 US. DOLLAR. The monthly loan fee can be compared to a lease. This is a big contribution to the construction industry, which has been severely affected by the world economic crisis that harmed Ecuador in 2015, due to the fall in oil prices. The project stimulates the future inhabitants’ economy by its flexibility in program and spaces. To achieve this, there are free areas that are planned to be used by local businesses in the future, covering the project’s operative costs in a medium and large term; encouraging self-management to future inhabitants.


Through the construction process and due to the design, the environmental footprint of the building was reduced by several strategies: • Energy: 22.9% • Water: 28.5% • Materials: 37.1% Energy: Moderate window to wall ratio and the fact that the project’s fenestration faces east and west. Energy saving light bulbs for common spaces. Lighting controls for common areas and outdoor spaces with occupancy and photochromatic sensors. Water: Low flow shower head, faucets for kitchens and washbasins. Dual flush for water closets. The use of native species bushes, flowers, grass and trees in green common areas. Materials: Floor slabs for flooring and roofs because it is a lightweight type and therefore less volume of concrete. Medium weight hollow concrete blocks for external walls, which provides thermal mass for regulating the internal temperatures of the building. Finished concrete floor, where the exposed thermal mass helps to control internal temperatures. Also, the Project is now fully occupied, as it provided a good housing solution in Quito, where housing projects have much higher prices. Some of the apartments have been already modified, some mantained the 3 bedrooms and others reduced them to 2 or even 1. In some cases, they have enlarged the social area or changed the wall colors. All of these changes reflect the adaptability of the Project, which makes it inclusive for different families types.

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