SUMMARY: We understand resources for what they are, not limited to money. We understand architecture as a tool, not existing for its own sake / not as an end in itself. Our solutions are collective; decisions are not made by one but by everyone.

PROBLEM SPACE: Puerto Cabuyal is a community located in a coastal area of Ecuador. Around thirty families live there far from everything; the land of 40 hectares is communal property. People still trade through barter and live mainly from fishing and agriculture. A citizen from Quito had arrived in 2004 to settle in Cabuyal. He later became the community’s teacher by starting an education program to awake desire to learn. This initiative was successful in Cabuyal; more and more children were coming. Indeed the 3×4 meters school they had constructed in the beach was becoming too small. This is when he contacted us in 2009, to offer an adapted space, directly located in the community.

SOLUTION: Las Esperanzas (The Hopes) is a long term process initiated in 2009 and there is no expiry date. Architecture here is not only an answer to a problem it is a tool, a way to support an initiative to bring opportunities and wider scopes. The seemingly difficult context made us think differently. $200 was all people had at hand. With such a budget it was obvious that we would have to find another kind of resource and we found many. It was essential for us to take advantage of the available materials and construction knowledge of the community; this is why we used the traditional ways of building. We developed a participatory design process in which everyone has a role to play: architects, inhabitants, teacher and volunteers.

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