CONNECTED ISOLATION: Designing Architecture and Territory in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Archipelago is renown for having the unique ecology that led Charles Darwin to describe the mechanisms of natural selection. Its islands are interconnected and isolated enough to promote adaptation and the emergence of new, endemic species, in relative proximity to each other. The survival of its ecosystem largely depends on its ability to remain isolated. Nevertheless, the archipelago has become one of the main destinations of the global eco-tourism industry, and it constitutes the fastest growing province of Ecuador, as well as one of its main sources of national income. Paradoxically, the survival of the ecosystem depends on its isolation whereas the prosperity of its economy relies on its interconnectivity. Faced with the issue of urban and infrastructural expansion occuring in a traditionally remote, fragile, and invaluable ecosystem, one is left to wonder how to address some of the most fundamental notions of architecture. Could it be reformulated as an inextricable component of its island ecology? If students were called to present their \”productive landscape\” scheme as an inextricable component of their architectural design; if they were to design the formation of an architectural feature as well as the deformation of its geographic counterpart; if architecture were to be understood as another form of natural resource… would they draw closer to designing an urban ecology? Such an approach would call for a fusion of architectural design, landscape architecture and territorial planning, and the Galapagos Islands may prove to be the ideal site in which to develop more sustainable modes of living.A vital component of the studio will be a site visit to Santa Cruz Island with a multi-disciplinary group that will guide the group through the complexities of the archipelago\’s nature and culture, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Universidad Internacional, whose satellite campus we will be designing, and the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.The site will be on in Santa Cruz Island. The program will be a satellite campus for Universidad Internacional, which will be comprised of a Community College component and a research-based tourism facility.