- Engineers: José Delgado Mendoza, José Guartatanga.
- Collaborators: PlantaBal 3ACore Material, Fundación Young Living, Novacero, FIMCM-ESPOL, Flavio Chernes
- Illustrations : Andrés Ortega, Holger Pauta, Jaime Peña
- Country: Ecuador
Text description provided by the architects. The Santay Observatory is a floating space for artistic expressions, training workshops for children and adults, environmental research, and community integration activities.
Santay Island, with 315 inhabitants, is part of the national system of protected areas for its ecological diversity. It is located on the Guayas River, 800 meters from the port city of Guayaquil, and belongs to the Durán canton. Its state of ecological protection complicates the building of infrastructures that promote cultural and educational development, dignity and revaluation of the collective memory of the site. Despite its condition of high environmental value, the rates of unsatisfied basic needs are a constant in the population.
The project arises from a synergy between the Amigos de Santay Foundation, professionals, and the island community, with the vision of integrating and managing cultural and social manifestations in the territory, bringing the local community and visitors closer to the natural environment and the traditional construction techniques, and strengthening local memory for future generations.
The observatory is built with local labor on the banks of Babahoyo, 60 km from Guayaquil, as a continuation of the research on floating habitability begun with El Refugio del Pescador. This first project sought to revalue the floating houses constituted as intangible heritage of the coastal cities of Ecuador. Once its construction was complete, it was moved from Babahoyo to Guayaquil through the river, to finally settle on the dock on Santay Island.
It is a multifunctional floating platform capable of adapting to various activities through folding doors made of prefabricated balsa wood panels that connect the interior space with an exterior gallery that looks towards the Guayas River and Santay Island. The wooden trusses constitute the structure of the gable roof that, in addition to generating habitable niches, provides sufficient height to generate ventilation and natural lighting from its permeable limits. Finally, wooden boards are used for the floor and the ceiling that extends outside the habitable limit to generate protection from the sun and rain.
The Observatory reflects on new possibilities of habitability on the water, where architecture is expressed as a convertible and adaptable space for local artists, visitors, and the community, sharing a vision that recovers the almost extinct traditional floating habitat systems, in the face of a development that moves away from the river as a resource to make a city.