CUI is a group of independent people and working teams that propose and work in an itinerant way with alternative solutions to reach the wellness of Quito’s citizens. This group emerges from CO.MPLOT a platform of young architects and people interested in the city that try to show the singularity of each design process by discussing and discerning results and ideas from people with different ways of though and academic formations.
“We got together with the purpose of learning from each other, to discuss and counter-pose our ideas, our frustrations, errors and challenges”
The group is composed by: RAMA, MUYA, ERDC, Daniel Moreno, Sebastián Calero, Gabriela Sánchez y and KS with Nacion Urku.
Learning beyond Architecture
CUI’s members started meeting to try to cover issues beyond what their professions normally cover.
“We wanted to expand our scope from that small scale that often engages architecture, we realized that if we got together we could reach an urban scale. “
There is an up-growth in their practice, described as a group path they are following to understand better the material part of city: the corner, the street, the neighborhood, as well as the immaterial part: the human-being, our identity, symbols, hopes and dreams.
Participation, Awareness and Appropriation
CUI’s approach to work in cities always starts by creating communities, they initiate this with different neighbourhood activities, where people are able to interact, and expose what they think and wish from the place they live in.
“Este es mi barrio” in the neighborhood la Tola is an initiative to create a touristic map with the participation of the neighbors, by establishing important places for the community such as viewing spots, iconic restaurants, or workshops by local artists.
Even though this is a long and hard process where different interest and ideas clash, it’s really hard and irresponsible to start the next step without the active participation of the community.
The next step is to make the neighborhood aware of the good and bad things they have. The act of awareness doesn’t necessary need a physical intervention, it’s enough to express their complain with a symbolic denounce to make the problem visible. Such as creating a giant and noticeable slide in an unequipped playground, it doesn’t solve the problem but makes it visible.
“These symbols give the capacity to the neighbors to make visible the conflict though poetic acts of denunciation”
Driven by the conviction that cohesion between neighbours and their active participation gives them a better life quality, the last step is appropriation of the public space, where people feel the neighbourhood as theirs, and start to use it and participate on it for their daily activities.
People, the most important resource
At first instance, CUI was self-finance, in projects like “La Tola”, they made “vaca” of crowdfunding, where everyone who participate in the project contribute whatever they can give, from paint cans and paper, to knowledge. This initiative was called “La Trueca”.
In spite their new project “Hagamos Vecindad! Vive tu Barrio” in La Mariscal is now financed by an NGO called Fundación Avina, they still think that the most important resource is the human being and its capacity to make transformations even without monetary resources.