AQUARELA: Urban Living With a Green Heart


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A new construction project is taking shape in Cumbayá. A large plot of land to the south of the Interoceánica Highway is set to become one of the most impressive residential housing projects the Ecuadorian capital has yet witnessed. Aquarela’s verdant, green world will be unlike anything Quiteños have seen to date.

“We were delighted to partner with the Pritzker Prize-winning Jean Nouvel and his team for this ambitious project,” says Joseph Schwarzkopf, the company’s CEO. “We wanted to push the bar once again, create something truly special. Aquarela is a living, breathing self-contained world that will change people’s perception of what their lifestyle can be.”

It’s hard to imagine how the present construction will truly feel once the project is complete. But that’s what makes this project so special and different. “We are very fortunate to live in a point on the planet where nature is so bountiful,” says Joseph. “We have sun year-round, regular rainfall, and species of plants that will grow in myriad different contexts. Jean Nouvel loved the idea of bringing nature to the fore on this project, making it a determining element in the whole plan. The end result of the dialectic between architecture and nature will be gratifying and surprising, the construction camouflaged amid native vegetation.”

Across the whole project, flora and foliage will riot across every vertical and horizontal plane, planted with thousands of native species of plants, trees and bushes. These will not only surround the different housing nuclei but grow around them, across them, hang from them. A central boulevard through the whole complex will feel like you’re walking along a winding mountain trail.

Creepers will intertwine balconies over several stories, walkways will be lined with swaying grasses and trees, attracting dozens of native fauna species as well. An urban agricultural project will add another layer of nature to the whole, encouraging residents to share and enjoy communal spaces. The overall verdant look will be finished in different shades of warm, golden stone installed with great care by local masons. This stonework undulates and curves, its lines asymmetric, surprising — organic.

This nature-centric approach goes far beyond Aquarela’s aesthetics; it’s embedded in the whole project’s DNA. “We wanted to go above and beyond the Municipality’s Eco-Efficient regulations,” claims Joseph, “taking advantage of Jean Nouvel’s brilliant vision while putting responsible resource use at the heart of Aquarela.”

Water management is key to that approach: rainwater is channeled back into the gardens, while wastewater from sinks, washing machines and showers is treated and reused for toilets. Intelligent irrigation systems will match the needs of specific vegetation, making sure that water use across the balconies, vertical gardens and outer gardens is optimal at all times. This obviously benefits residents whose utility bills are reduced, but also lessens the environmental footprint this ambitious project will create.

Moreover, Aquarela benefitted from Jean Nouvel’s team of landscape architects, who worked hand-in-hand with Uribe & Schwarzkopf’s. Its apartments will be ensconced by plants and trees, ensuring comfortable interior temperatures at all times and precluding the need for air-conditioning or heating.

Within this nature-filled world, Aquarela residents won’t need to use their cars to get around or find fun. They will create their own community and enjoy a new type of urban living lifestyle in Quito. Each block will have its own outdoor adult and children’s swimming pool, and residents will be part of their own exclusive club, enjoying two cinema rooms, games rooms for different ages, bowling alley, sound-proofed music room, business center with meeting rooms, yoga room, spa treatment center, pet spa, a hairdresser and two restaurants with varied menus.

Those wanting to keep fit or exercise will find abundant amenities, including an Olympic-sized covered swimming pool, extensive gym equipment, indoor ice-rink, mini-golf course, squash court, outdoor tennis court, and a five-a-side AstroTurf football pitch.

Aquarela’s vision is of a world within itself for residents, a world not only steeped in nature but respectful of it, too.

The pink-flowered arupo tree is an icon of the summer months in Quito. Uribe & Schwarzkopf recently agreed to help writer Rafael Lugo’s project to replant the Trebol intersection in the east of the city with these beautiful trees. The company donated 120 arupos and over 80 other tree varieties towards the project.

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