With its new-found oil revenues, Ecuador is planning to build a new city: Yachay, or City of Knowledge. Concerned that the design as it was being planned was insensitive to the context, Ana Maria Duran Calisto (LF 2011) co-organized the Yachay International Think Tank including 5 Loeb friends: Ian Lockwood (LF 2012), Doug Meffert (LF 2004), Ana Gelabert (LF 2011) and Ramiro Almeida (LF 2013). Lockwood reports.
Ecuador is using its new-found oil wealth to diversify the country’s economy away from an extraction and export model. The diversification will involve innovation, research, and related production, based in the planned city of Yachay. The city is proposed for an interior valley about 115 km from Quito’s airport. Yachay will feature a university - the heart - housing, tourism and business and manufacturing.
A Korean group, financial partners in the development of the city, proposed the city’s first design. Ana Maria Duran Calisto and other Ecuadorians were concerned about the design’s insensitivity to the physical, social, and historical contexts as well as the excessive scale. Ana Maria wished for a higher ambition for the country’s first post-colonial city and helped organize the Yachay International Think Tank, including her Loeb friends.
About three dozen people from around the world descended on the site for several days, offering insights and ideas from diverse backgrounds. The Think Tank generated plenty of good ideas and there was a genuine interest by the Ecuadorian officials in following up with subsequent refinement steps.
The Ecuadorian hospitality was wonderful. The group was provided delicious local food, entertainment by local musicians and dancers, and a tour of the breathtaking countryside. The Loeb Fellows enjoyed the opportunity to catch up, meet other kindred spirits, and to contribute to Ecuador’s bold and ambitious project. Although the Loeb Fellows donated their time to help with this initiative, it would not have been possible without Ana Maria’s tireless organizational efforts and a grant by the Loeb Fellowship to cover travel expenses. We all look forward to the successful development of a new city.