ARCHITECT contributor Lance Hosey, FAIA, visited Portoviejo, Ecuador, two weeks after the country was struck by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 16. The natural disaster devastated the South American country, killing 700 people and injuring thousands more. Portoviejo is located 100 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, but the city was still flattened and bodies remained buried under the wreckage weeks later.
Later, Hosey and his team traveled to Guayaquil, the country’s most populous city, which lies 180 miles outside of the quake's reach. Though this city was not physically impacted, the event has given the city a chance to figure out what to change before they are hit by a similar natural disaster, making the need for resilient design more important than ever before.
Inspired by this effort, Perkins Eastman, a colleague of Hosey's and engineering firm Degenkolb are collaborating with local policymakers, architects, engineers, and others to study how Ecuador and other quake-prone regions can become more resilient. The “Ecuador Exchange” will be a global conversation to solve critical infrastructure issues in developing regions, but it can benefit the United States as well.
We hope to create a new model of development, through both renovation and new construction, that can save lives but also preserve homes, services, property, as well as the architectural and cultural heritage of regions at risk. Using resources currently available in the developing world, how quickly can these communities move toward a safer built environment?