Design Activities

General strategy for rethinking and redesign the 24 de Mayo Boulevard.

The actual fragmented system will be considered as a palimpsesto of a new urban transformation in which experiment innovative ways tof apply the concept of active memory as a possible project tool, rediscovering the ravine system traces. Local architectural design concept and strategy. Using the general strategy as new urban narration background, design groups will apply the global vision on a new space of memory definition, multifunctional and both public and private.

How can it be a contemporary space of memory?

A new museum concept involving public spaces and landscape elements? 


The Context

San Francisco de Quito is one of the oldest cities in Latin America. It is the capital and the political, cultural and financial centre of the Republic of Ecuador. It is located at an average height of 2850 m.a.s.l. in the Andes range, more accurately within the Guayllabamba valley, in the Inter-Andean Alley plateau which separates the eastern and western sides of the Andean range. The city’s western end is defined by the eastern slopes of the active Pichincha volcano, which dominates the urban extension in such way that its hillsides are visible from any angle, shaping the city’s sectors. This geographical condition gives the city its peculiar elongated pattern, with 50 km in length and averaging 3 to 7 km in width, traversed by more than 100 ravines from east to west. The city, located about 25 km north of Quito’s old town, is crossed by the equator, which produces significant landscape diversity. The geo-morphological and geological conformation comes from the presence of the Pichincha volcano. The soil is composed of deep layers of lava and ash which have little resistance to river erosion and harden in contact with air. This has allowed the preservation until recent times of the engravings generated by the last ice melting: a system of seasonal watercourses, “quebradas”. It is a system of intermittently-formed rivers that rhythmically go through the city’s plain from east to west (Peltre 1989) 

Such geological formation determines a privileged condition not only from the environmental point of view, but also for defensive purposes, so much that the Incas decided to install one of their cities in this territory. Quebradas were natural barriers that were difficult to cross. These ravines can reach 15-20 metres of depth with steep edges and strong slopes (20-30 degrees). They constitute an important natural drainage network which has been modified over time to favour the city’s growth. According to current urban development there are more than 120 ravines, many of which have been filled up.

The foundation of Colonial Quito (San Francisco de Quito, 1534) is based on a reticulated urban layout, typical of a colonial town, inspired by the Roman castrum reticular structure. The regular checkerboard was adapted to the site’s topography, where necessary adjustments were made not so much due to mountain hillsides but mostly because of the presence of ravines (quebradas). Modifications to the squared block model used originally in the colonial city were made with the objective of allowing the passing of water streams. The conquerors did not respect the presence of ravines for their environmental role, but because the fluvial pathways were used as dumping sites, which could get rid of urban trash using water power. 


From the 18th century onwards, the ravines began to be closed in a fragmented and discontinuous manner according to particular interests (Crespo 2004). This phenomenon became symptomatic and recurrent when the city began to grow consistently outside the limits of the colonial model, that is, from the 20th century onwards. While in 1902 the city took up 300 hectares of land, this number increased to 1300 hectares in 1950 and currently the whole Distrito Metropolitano (which includes the city and its surroundings) has an area of 290746 hectares. Urbanised land has an area of 43116 hectares. From the second half of the 20th century until now the size of Quito has grown tenfold, with a significant acceleration in the last decade. Its urban population reached 1.98 million people according to the latest census.



How to recover the quebradas memory?

The 24 de Mayo Boulevard case 

 The need to establish a relationship with the memory of places highlights the need for a paradigm shift in urban development choices. It is precisely the condition of fragility that allows opining up innovative scenarios of regeneration in which the presence of the quebradas system is not a marginal reality, but a fundamental component of the transformative project on the city.  

The fragility of this system guides the architectural project towards new integrated strategies. Its revealing repercussions also demonstrate that ravines are not isolated and fragmented elements, but are part of a system able to establish a relation between the urban space, as a whole, and the surrounding Andean landscape. In this sense the natural context, now considered as something separated from the city, like a background, will be reintroduced inside the urban fabric with an environmental role.

This new blue-green infrastructure system will be able to face the morpho-climatic risk detected.

This innovative change overturns the current concept by ensuring that such fragments inserted in the complex system of the quebradas take protagonist role in the future rethinking of Quito.

This new urban system not as something fixed but as open to changes over This is the result of a system based on a dynamic interaction between the original geo- morphological traces and the ones related to the city in expansion.

Workshop areas of interventions


One general strategy on the 24 de Mayo Boulevard

One local strategy on a main node


Scientific Papers

Giordanelli D., Bracchi P., Boix A., Cruz M., Torrijo J. (2020), Urban an hydrogeological alert on the morphoclimatic risk affecting Quito’s World Heritage, The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XLIV-M-1-2020, 2020 HERITAGE2020 (3DPast | RISK- Terra) International Conference, 9–12 September 2020, Valencia, Spain.



Bracchi P., Giordanelli D (2020), Quito open code, between fragility and modification, Experiential Design – Rethinking relations between people, objects and environments, Florida State University, AMPS Conference,Volume: 2.

Bracchi P., Cruz M., Giordanelli D., (2020), Quito “codice aperto”, OFFICINA* N.26, Pubblicazione a stampa ISSN 2532-1218, Pubblicazione online ISSN 2384-9029).