Quilotoa Shalalá Overlook
This Project starts with the acknowledgment of a conceptual challenge which structures the idea that generates the proposal: Which characteristics could an overlook have to be attractive even when all its natural surroundings offer interesting (and similar) views? This is due to the fact that the project is located in the top edge of the crater of an active volcano that has a lake inside of it, which creates multiple viewing opportunities along its surroundings.
Because of its geographical peculiarities, the Quilotoa Crater and its Lake have become a touristic site of growing popularity in Ecuador. Located in the Andes, this elevation is 170 km south of Quito. Its altitude is 3974 meters above sea level, and the diameter of the crater is approximately 3 km. Due to the minerals present in its water, the lake in the crater has a distinctive turquoise colour that is the main characteristic of this site. The ecosystem of this area is an Andean páramo, therefore its surrounding vegetation includes low grasses, endemic shrubs and small trees. All these elements add to create a landscape of restrained beauty.
The area has been traditionally inhabited by indigenous populations of the Ecuadorian highlands, who have a mainly agricultural way of subsistence. The closest settlement is Zumbahua; however, some small scattered communities live closer to the lake. Shalalá is one of the communities that have ancient ties to the Volcano, and their inhabitants have started a touristic venture to offer accommodation, restaurant service and guided visits to the attractions of the área.
The Ecuadorian Tourism Ministry responded to the initiative of the community by providing them with complementary infrastructure to their touristic facilities: an overlook in the top edge of the crater and the footpath to connect it with the main area of the touristic complex. The Ministry aimed to support the venture of the community helping its members to increase their income through their involvement in the provision of touristic services.
The overlook is planned to settle in the superior edge of the crater, its main objective is to create a structure that allows the uninterrupted observation of the surroundings where the users can safely reach border of the cliff. However, the conceptual challenge explained above remains, where the site chosen for the overlook has a very similar view to the rest of the border of the crater. Therefore, the analysis is focused on what other experiences could the overlook offer to become an interest point in the área.
Since the creation of this overlook, there has been a noticeable increase in the touristic activity in the community. Additionally, its members have engaged in the upkeep of the intervention and are committed to keep it in good conditions. This could be qualified as a successful case where the interventions of the State, the community and the designers have reached the expected outcome.