Turquoise waters, a breathtaking walk into the void.
The Quilotoa is an active volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes: its crater is flooded with turquoise waters, making it an extraordinary scenery and one of the country’s most breathtaking attractions. The caldera has an altitude of 3,974 meters above sea level, and its diameter is approximately 3 km. Its surrounding vegetation includes low grasses, endemic shrubs and small trees. All these elements create a landscape of restrained beauty. Shalalá is one of the communities that have ancient ties to the volcano.
Jorge Andrade Benítez, Javier Mera Luna and Daniel Moreno Flores designed the Quilotoa Crater Overlook.
Though the the Quilotoa Crater and its lake can be viewed from many angles, the belvedere, which is set on the top edge of the caldera, creates an unparalleled viewing experience, thanks to its two-fold use: one may choose to reach the edge of the crater and walk over the cliff on the extending platform, which produces a vertigo-like sensation. At the same time, a space for passive viewing is created below the platform, where the user is protected from the elements and is able to have a lengthy moment of contemplation and introspection.
These two opposite yet complementary experiences coexist in a resulting V-shaped structure. The belvedere on the top is a horizontal extension of the landscape into the void and covers the lower tiered seating area, which follows the natural slope. Here, visitors can rest and enjoy nature.
The overlook is composed of an internal steel truss system while its outer skin is made of wood, which locates the intervention within the chromatic palette and texture of the landscape.
The main objective of the belvedere is to create a structure that allows for the uninterrupted observation of the surroundings, without impacting the landscape.
Every gesture in the intervention attempts to modify as little as possible of the current harmony present at the site, and for this reason the entire structure is designed to be easily dismantled and removed, when it is no longer needed.
The footpath that connects to the overlook is built with stone edges and filled with gravel, looking to mark a defined route and to create a walkable surface without altering the natural qualities of the landscape.
PHOTOS BY JAVIER MERA, LORENA DARQUEA, DANIEL MORENO FLORES