Casa de Cultura Chamanga

Phase II by Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS), realized in February-March 2018.

Phase I and research: Center for Public Interest Design, Portland State University and Tokyo University  (realized in September 2017)..

Collaborators: Atarraya (Lorena Burbano and Sebastia Oviedo, Quito: investigation, participatory design guidance, implementation-support); Opcíon Más: Co-Design

The village of Chamanga at the coast of Ecuador was destroyed to 80% by an earthquake in Spring 2016. The reconstruction process is slow. It unveiled social, cultural and economic weaknesses that existed before and are now very present. Specially the children and youth suffer under the bad economic, hygienic and social conditions. The effort of this studio is, to support the citizen of Chamanga in some small but useful interventions.

The Cultural Center for Children and Youth

Amongst many other problems, there is an urgent need for opportunities and space for children and youth to spend their time meaningful. Drugs are infiltrating and damage the social tissue. The task of this DesignBuild Studio was to develop a cultural centre in collaboration with the NGO “Opción Más”, working for several years in Chamanga, teaching and recordig music, practicing and performing art. Due to the devasting earthquake, they lost their rented rooms. A building plot was bought by the organisation. An international team of Universities supporting the village of Chamanga in this crisis started to redesign the centre in 2017.

The Project

The first phase was designed by the Centre for Public Interest Design from the Portland State University in cooperation with collegues from the Tokyo University. It was realized in September 2017. (the brick-concrete volume on the right, ca. 50 m2).

The db project of MUAS joined in in October and designed and realized the second phase: A mirrored brick building and a second story of bamboo, ca.180 m2. The center offers multi-usable and modifiable spaces for theater, music, dance, sports and arts.

A stage at the end of the entrence hall allowes performances and cinema presentations. The other spaces offer differnt characteristics and can be conected or separated from the main hall. A compost toilet and a rain water colection is completing the compound.


Technical Description

The project was designed and realized in two phases by three universities (MUAS. Portland State University, Tokyo University) and other colaborators:

This project presentation concentrates on the second planning and building phase.

In a two step-jury process, the best design was selected out of 5 alternatives. The architects and engineers had to struggle with the small dimensioned ground, a short budget and a tight timeframe (4,5 weeks for buidling).

The design decision was, to mirror the existing first building to the other side and create an entrene hall in the middle. A second story of bamboo was added to the single story concrete frame building with brick mansonry infill. The most important issue was the earchquake appropriateness of the building. The engineers rimplemented a bamboo lab-testing series to develop a good behaviour of joints. Infills of concrete reinforce the most stressed bamboo- segments.

The concrete structure of the first floor building is bearing heavy reinforcements to realize a strenght against earthquake- impacts. The brick- infill was realized in a second step and is not atached to the concret piles but is counting as well with a rebar-reinforcment in every 5th brick layer.


In use

-clic on the picture left to get more information-

The 8th of March, the Centre was inaugurated with a cultural programme and the presence of the German Ambassador in Ecuador.
Since then, music classes, taekwondo courses, capacitation workshops, neighbourhood meetings and other community related activities are animating the Cultural Centre Chamanga and show that this space is use by children and adults.
Some recent activities can be seen on Facebook:
9, December 2020: Christmas Crafting
6, December 2020:  Fabric Softener Production
26, August 2020: Waste Disposal Video
2, May 2020: Covid Mask Production
and many more.

'I drove down the Andes to Chamanga, a small town located along the northern strip of the Ecuadorian Pacific Coast, expecting to find a carefully designed and crafted Building. What I found was a beautiful hybrid of tectonic and stereometric design, and much more.'
in: Ana Maria Durán Calisto in: DAM German Architectural Annual 2020, Dom publishers, Berlin, page 223


Book Studio Chamanga -research design build

A publication about the planing and building of the Chamanga Centre for Culture is available upon request:

Lanaguages: English and German

PHASE II : Hochschule München

Project description

The new cultural center is particularly striking because of it second skew structural shell. With its inviting gesture it surrounds the free space and draws all attention to the central main stage. The structure of the initial building is integrated by repeating the reinforced concrete frame. It is then perfectly reflected in its new opposite building.
The auditorium provides extra space in case of crowded events, as the frames by the entrance can be extended onto the open street. Additionally, a second floor will be added to provide space for a library, meeting point, and radio studio. On the ground floor the  radiostudio, a storage room, as well as a flexible room that can be used as a small stage, find their place.
The first floor is entirely built from bamboo. The fassade, as well as the foldable elements within the braided bamboo facade take care of consistent fresh air ventilation. The pent roof faces the yard and leaves a gap to further ventilate.
The space between the buildings gives in fact room for the heart piece of the project: Its auditorium and stage. The stage is 30cm high and passes with its width of 100 cm along the dance room, to accommodate seats as well. This elevation enforces this zone to be a meeting point.
The space on top of the new building is connected with a small bridge which can be used for install technics for the stage. The second floor of the new building is a low storay to use as a stand. Especially for children it is a nice separated playground.
The materials of brick, concrete and traditional bamboo create a pleasant and restful color image. It invites visitors and residents to dance, for music lessons or to just come by and meet nice people.

Facade- testing

We had to develop a facade that permits the entry of light and air but keeps out the rain in this hot, humid and tropical zone and protects against burglary (without using glas as it will brake easily).

The students found a solution, using 20 cm bamboo-cuts, screwed togehter in a frame, lightly inclinde so that all above mentioned conditions are fulfilled!

They tested the feasibility in Germany in a lab and it seems that we can do it (about 50 m2).

Phase I: Portland State University

In September 2017, students from the Centre for Public Interest Design (CPID) under the direction of Sergio Palleroni designed and build the first phase of the center in close cooperaton with the client orgaisation Opión Más. The participatory approach to develop the adequate programme and assist the implementation was directed by atarrya architects/Quito: Lorena Burbano and Sebastian Oviedo.

The structural engineers Mika Akari and Jun Sato from the Tokyo University supported the design of the structural system. Akiko Okabe and students from the Tokyo University supported the implementation on site. They finished the first set of rooms build in masonry and concrete framework. They have been assisted by Tod Ferry and Marta Petteni from the CPID


Katharina Biet, Sophia Forstner, Fabian Fromme, Cinya Gaea Fürstenberger Rebekka Gebauer David Glöckler, Paul Hacker, Ricarda Hörmann, Regina Keilhacker, Vera Kuisl, Caroline Makowski, Kathrin Pfeffer, Andreas Reiser, Anna-Lena Rischer, Stefan Seifert, Isabell Stiersdorfer, Maria-Christina Zettl, Ferdinand Loserth, Philipp Bachert, Sandra Schmid, Dennis Brandt
Opción Más
Alberto Lopez "Baltyn"
Collaborating Organisations
Project Implementation
Project Implementation
Atarraya: Sebastian Oviedo, Lorena Burbano
Valentin Angst
Financial Support
Ecuadorian: GAD (Decentralized Administrative Government of Chamanga), Fundation Bavaria, Fundation Conduto
Financial Support
German: Sto-Stiftung, Deutsche Botschaft Ecuador, GAD (Decentralized Administrative Government of Chamanga), Hans Sauer Stiftung, Michalke Bauunternehmen Muenchen, Deutsches Ziegelzentrum Sued. e.V.
Support of travel and accomodation
University of applied Sciences, Munich

Academic Discipline(s)
18 Students
Civil Engineering
3 Students
Academic Level(s)
Academic Facts

Site / Structure Dimension
The plot has a dimension of 9 x 15 qm.
The constructed and usable coverd space wil be about 120 qm.
The Construction is devided in a firs floor made out of concrete framework and brick infill, the second floor and roof is constructed out of Bamboo (cana Guadua) and wood.
35000 €
20000 €
In Kind
First Building Phase PSU: 12000 $
Other Budget
Travel Costs: 50.000
Teaching faculty extra costs: 17.000 regular staff not included)
Student voluntary work on building site: 20.000 (25€/ day- local honorary for unskilled workers)
Project Start
Length of Planning/ Design Phase
3 Month (Phase 2)
Project Context
Project Type
Care / Education | Community / Culture | Sports / Play / Recreation
Construction Methods/Techniques