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Al Borde

Learning on the Edge


Ciudad del Este, Paraguay


05/02/2023 — 05/12/2023

Formative project developed in alliance with Universidad Católica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Campus Alto Paraná in Paraguay, with the participation of professors and students of the Architecture program.

Al Borde: LAB.LAND. Fazenda Catuçaba, São Luiz do Paraitinga, Brasil (2018). Fotografía: MAPA & Victoria Braga. Cortesía: Al Borde.

Al Borde

Ecuadorian architecture firm founded in 2007 by Pascual Gangotena (Quito, 1977), David Barragán (Quito, 1981), Marialuisa Borja (Quito, 1984), and Esteban Benavides (Quito, 1985). Al Borde is a project that intends to be consistent with the human dimension of space using minimal resources; not as an apology for precariousness but as an aesthetic and political resource. It is a project that incisively questions the idea of discipline-based and capital-driven architecture. Al Borde has given conferences, and workshops, and exhibited its works in various countries. It was part of the official selection of the Venice Architecture Biennale (2016). They have received numerous awards, including the Medal for Cultural Recognition of Ecuador (2012), the World Award for Sustainable Architecture (Paris, 2013), and the Ibero-American Panorama Award for Works at the XI BIAU in Paraguay (2019).

Their projects stand on the edges of artistic practice and architecture, developing a sort of "intimate discourse of the place." As a work ethic, they propose designs that start from the "intelligence of the common," generating dynamics of community exchange where people design from their own collective awareness.

Al Borde

The experience of reality as a learning principle is the premise of the CLASSROOM proposed by the architectural firm Al Borde. Departing from the specific realities of the surrounding communities of the Metropolitan Area of Ciudad del Este, students of the Architecture program of the Universidad Católica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in Paraguay will design and develop an on-site architectural intervention, providing a solution to a specific problem of their neighboring environment, through self-management and organization of the resources and knowledge.

Incorporating the concepts of ‘economy,’ ‘society,’ and ‘environment,’ the CLASSROOM ultimately aims to develop a proposal for a learning and mediation model that rethinks the role of architects from an active presence in their communities. In this way, the students become the protagonists: they propose the problem, develop a solution for it, and execute it with the support of the teaching team.

Methodologically, the project is divided into four parts:

Initial situation. It starts with the study of a situation in the surroundings of Ciudad del Este, in order to problematize it, identifying its contradictions, potential resources, and latent opportunities.

Formulating the desired reality. From the previous problematization, along with interactions with the real users of the context, the needs or desires for change are established and the intentions and design strategies are described. The work is to be done with the available resources as basic schemes of the architectural solution.

Reconfiguring reality. The architectural project is understood as a reorganization of the initial resources, which transforms the initial situation into the desired situation in the most efficient way. The transformative actions and the resources needed for the intervention are projected.

Construction. The interaction with the organized groups the students approach or belong to could materialize the proposed intervention. The students, together with a team of professors, will develop this option relying on self-managed services and the event itself.

Construir escuelas en elespacio público