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Campus Plan for the National University of Education in Ecuador

Campus Plan for the National University of Education in Ecuador

Design Team:
Utoplan (Pablo Campos, PhD Architect), Typsa, Isdefe

The Institution
The Mission Statement of the UNAE says, “The National University of Education will form educators with high scientific rigor, intellectual and academic honesty, that are committed to the transformation of education.” This idea formed the foundation for the creation of a new campus Master Plan that embraces both scientific and cultural worldviews.

Conceptual Tool for the Design
The “Educational Campus” is the philosophical structure used for planning the campus, transmitting values, and expressing the University’s mission as a series of spaces. Pablo Campos created this innovative design system while he planned the University of Salamanca new Campus, a recipient of a DesignShare Honor Award in 2005. It became one of the criteria used by the Spanish Ministry of Education in the Program “Campus of International Excellence” (2009-2011), and its main features are:

1. Integral planning
2. Learning community model
3. Spatial harmony
4. Embracement of the intellectual
5. Nature and art
6. Image and accessibility
7. Adaptation to the environment and sustainability
8. Memory and the avant-garde
9. Relation to University-City
10. Innovative teaching & learning modalities

The Site
The site of 116 acres is located between the cities of Azogues and Cuenca, Southwest of Ecuador. The topography is very attractive, although quite complicated; the grounds have very steep hills on the east border, and the Burgay River crosses the site from North to South. The former Panamericana Sur road runs along the West border, setting up a barrier towards the adjacent rural areas. Going north, a pedestrian path will connect the Campus with a local community, Parroquia Javier Loyola, which will benefit from the existence of the University.

The physical preexistences are distinctive in terms of nature, providing a University site enriched by an attractive and varied landscape.

Campus Master Plan innovations: Cultural Roots, Sustainability and New Functions Location

The Campus layout is designed to blend in with the natural condition. The design consists of a circular campus between the Burgay river and adjacent natural soil terraces. The main architectural zones are composed of a series of buildings whose structure follows a circular pattern, evoking the conceptual idea of a quadrangle, and setting up open spaces embraced by architectural volumes that pay tribute to this traditional form.

The Library-Resource Centers for Learning and Research (RCLR) is the only architectural piece segregated from the main building circular scheme, located on the east side of the river. Its iconic morphology evokes the shape of the Sacred Mountain of Cojitambo, created by the Cañari and Inca civilizations, which are visible from the Campus area.

An Archeological Park, and most of the sport facilities will occupy the central area of the campus. The east edge of this huge open space will be delineated by the former railway track, transformed into a linear pedestrian green park, hosting a Botanical Garden. All these areas will have small open pavilions, dedicated to student casual activities. The shape of these modules will be inspired in the “usnus”, a kind of agora typical of the archaeological heritage present in Cojitambo. These culturally relevant spatial elements are incorporated to the campus design in two different ways:

• The archeological heritage of the ancient civilizations suggests an embracing outline that organizes the main circular shape of the built pieces.

• The morphologies of the “usnus” seen in Cojitambo Sacred Mountain and the “qurikanchas” of Pumapungo Cuenca serve as a spatial metaphorical typology for both the platform base of the library and the small open pavilions of the central campus.

Sustainability is a key concept shaping the design of the global campus. The design provides sensitivity towards local nature, the recovery of the riverbank, the implantation of indigenous trees and plants species, and the fostering of ecologically centered values.

As a planning decision coherent with the institutional goals, the residences of students and faculty are located in proximity within the core campus area. This design creates a true “Community of Learning” that defines the campus as an integrated place to live, study and do research. The proximity of professors to students is a key way the design fosters a more interactive campus community.

For more information on this project, contact: Pablo Campos, PhD Architect,


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