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La Cabina de la Curiosidad

Architecture as Construction of Narratives for the Common Good

Based in Quito, Ecuador, and directed by Marie Combette and Daniel Moreno Flores, La Cabina de la Curiosidad is a traveling laboratory that includes art, craftsmanship, architectural design, territorial awareness, landscape, environmental processes, pedagogy and teaching, construction, rehabilitation, and management. It is from this multiplicity of shared practices that they invite us to approach the construction of common space as an open and moving process.



The formation of a collective arises from the need to share tasks, to support each other in research, and to support each other in our common practice. When we are accompanied, we are stronger, we are supported, we grow together and we are happy to achieve the goals we set for ourselves every day.

Our arms reach beyond our spaces; we are connected to a collective of architects from Quito as well as from other parts of the country, as a large body of mutual support, sharing ideals, methods and skills.

We work together articulately to support each other, to build narratives for the common good, and to accompany and motivate experiences. There is a common quest to build environments of well-being, taking into account the sustainability of our habitats.

Mobile cabin – Territorial Explorations. Courtesy: La Cabina de la Curiosidad.


We believe that there is constant learning in daily life, and that it is fundamental to have a spirit that continues to seek knowledge. Every act of daily life and work expands the possibility of accessing new information. We are interested in learning from experience, coexistence and dialogue.

We have acquired "vices" by learning the profession, we use architectural tools; one of the ones that stimulates us the most and makes us happy is the immersion drawing, the in situ survey, as an ethnographic way of reading the space. We tell with lines the stories that surround us. We understand that in order to develop it in the best way, it is necessary to have a permanent constancy to strengthen our own technique. We are interested in a playful way of thinking, we firmly believe that from this many things can happen, even approaching an artistic practice.

We do not come from an artistic training as such, but the pedagogies we have been immersed in have allowed us to build ourselves as creative social beings, the complexity of daily life has stimulated us to face it in a poetic and artistic way.


We are amazed by collective intelligence in solving specific everyday problems; we are stimulated by the knowledge of our ancestors, acquired over time through the mastery of natural materials; explorers, botanists, and naturalists of other times have amazed us and helped us to understand the place where we live.

We have also been influenced by Georges Perec (writer), Claude Levi-Strauss, Philippe Descola (anthropologists and ethnographers), Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop in Autonauts of the Cosmoroute, in which there the travel writers with the idea that each territory has its complexity and the views and methodologies are broad to generate readings.

Architects that have caught our attention are the following: Lina Bo Bardi, Peter Zumthor, Carla Juacaba, Gabinete de Arquitectura, Rafael Iglesia, Ensamble Studio, Toni Girones, Rural Studio, Flores y Prats, Patrick Bouchain, José María Sáez, and Al borde.

The knowledge that each member of the team has enriches the common vision, because it is loaded with knowledge and desires that each one has incorporated over time. Together, we strengthen ourselves and put forward a will of common development.



There is a lot of energy in learning about the new assignment, inquiring, talking, understanding and absorbing information. There is a joy in exploring all that surrounds the new project, the mind is sparking, there is a lot to process, and ideas are constantly sprouting. It is a very exciting time of reflection, of putting our own philosophies into practice and facing new challenges. There is an atmosphere of exploring the unknown, tackling the intangible and shaping it until it can be materialized.

We always try to incorporate our values, there are general ideas that are repeated in the works, they have to do with the footprint of what is done in relation to the territory, we analyze the impact of what we are going to do, how to touch with subtlety, how to potentiate the ideas and how to achieve qualities that contribute to the construction of each individual.


Doubts are welcome; they allow us to go deeper into the processes because we can inquire about the subject that concerns us. Fear, on the other hand, paralyzes us, it does not lead us to strengthen our thoughts, it restricts and limits us. We try to flee from the story of fear. Mistakes can come from many places; the constant work tries to reduce the number of them; in every moment we work on the idea of solving the "problem". At the moment of construction, the possibility of mistakes is still very high, perhaps because of this very contrast with the idea of perfection, which is something that does not exist, the materials have many qualities and we could also classify them as imperfections. But for us it is important that the materials are what they are, with their cracks, with their defects, with their intrinsic qualities. This will provide qualities through the essence of the material. Craftsmanship is an exercise with the hands in which touch with the material permeates actions that are evident with their own shapes and textures. Since the beginning of our profession, we have been working and considering the craftsmen, we think that it is a work that takes time and we must value it and consider it.

Archive of social struggles – La Cabina de la Curiosidad, Pablo Ayala, Silvia Vimos, Andrea Zambrano and Fernando Muñoz Miño. Courtesy: La Cabina de la Curiosidad.


Individuality sustains collective work, the strength of one or another guides what we do. Everyone has their own strengths, desires, virtues and character. Sometimes some lead the way, sometimes others. We try to do what we like, day after day, with passion always present, dreaming of possible imaginaries, visualizing fantastic machines, idealizing a better world; where rivers are clean, waste is recyclable, culture is lived to the fullest, cities have quality public spaces everywhere and their inhabitants have decent housing.

Together we pursue ideals and build upon them.


We work with diversity—we try to open ways to enrich projects and processes. We have worked with clients as if it were a psychological therapy, we have done processes as if it were a search for a graphic language, as a book of illustrations, we have done architecture through eternal dialogues, we have drawn processes on infinite rolls of tracing paper, we have worked with the idea of creative immersion in which we absorb everything from the environment to the last detail, we have done territorial explorations to understand reality, we have questioned the form of contemporary urban development, we have done activism through architecture and urbanism, we have worked with resources, recyclable, natural materials. We have worked with material systems, we have made poetic acts as described by Jodorowsky, and we have made devices for people to move their space and make it dynamic, so that architecture responds to living movement.

We are artisanal beings—we understand craft as an honorable act, as Richard Sennet describes it in working with the hand. We are interested in touching the material and generating learning out of constant activity. Our spirit moves around illustrating, drawing, creating cartographies through redrawing, creating graphic language and working with construction tools in an autonomous way, mainly in the elaboration of wooden systems.


We are collaborative beings, constantly working through different collectives with architects, with close colleagues, with the societies around us, with our clients, with builders, among others. We believe in teamwork, we listen, we debate and we act. Over time, we have encountered different collective needs, in those moments we have considered that if we are together, we can achieve the task: with the CUI collective (Colectivo Urbano Itinerante) we have carried out two civic projects for the appropriation of public space through neighborhood activities. In 2016, due to the earthquake that affected Ecuador, mainly the coast, we managed to come together among colleagues and generate architectural solutions for those affected. Collaboration happens organically, depending on the circumstances; the important thing is that we are always open to it.


In Progress

We are in a constant state of reflection, it is our driving force, it is what guides our days and it intensifies at times when we are generating new project possibilities or when we are systematizing what we have done before.

We think about our role as architects in society—about the impact we have as professionals in society. Most of the time this impact is minimal; the architect is usually underutilized in urban civic action. For this reason, we strongly believe that it is fundamental to draw attention to the various issues that affect all of us residents on a daily basis, in order to make statements that seek to be transformative in nature. It is a way of doing urban activism to talk about different qualities that we deserve from an architectural vision. By showing where the material resources come from, how we can use the recyclable materials that the city offers us, where the water that we consume in the city goes, where it comes from and how we can treat it, we explore the value of the territory, of natural materials, of tradition and culture reflected through architecture.

We have also dedicated ourselves to the production of books, exhibitions, drawings, research, illustrations, projects to build from vernacular architecture, competitions, appropriations of public space, workshops and also the construction of our own community in a house in the historic center of Quito, together with Al borde, Ese Colectivo and Pinxcel.

In Retrospect

We want the projects we develop to carry lessons from reality, in which we can delve to enrich the processes. We want each one to tell the complexity in which it develops, so that it reflects the breadth of life itself.

Here are three examples of recent projects:

The book Viajes del Cotidiano deals with the immaterial memory of the city. In it we have developed three researches that seek to know and appreciate the city in which we live. These explorations were carried out in situ, feeling the street. It deals with the equipment for the sale of fruit, where people put a lot of creativity to maintain their economic activity. We also made 50 surveys of staircases in the city to appreciate the Andean condition of this territory and the different ways of living. And the third analysis is about 25 commercial spaces where the exterior and interior are blurred and where the different uses extend their elements until they become part of the street. This work leads us to know the city in a deep way through everyday issues.

We recently held the exhibition Los Caminos del Agua at the Museo del Agua in the same city, where we developed an exhibition of 24 linear meters of water cartographic drawings of different scales, as an act of assimilation to generate collective learning. It is an amplification that shows the vastness of the territory while questioning it through the record. We made these studies to understand the water systems; they make us take into account the mountains, the cities, the geography, the ecology, the weather, the rain or the water, the waste, the pollution and the ways of building in the territory that forget the place itself.

The last example is a work of architecture; it is the lodging in a quarry overlooking the Tungurahua volcano, in which an exhaustive study is made of a territory where an important river flows into the Amazon, where there is a volcano that has been erupting for 16 years. The land contains worlds, half of it is a quarry that seeks to have a change of economic activity, and therefore energy is put in the other half of the land where the place is preserved. There are springs, Andean swamps, jungles and a 400-meter long stone wall. The site offers many possibilities: from the quarry there are huge stones and materials that are no longer used, such as sieves for sifting or pipeline pipes. In addition, some materials have been recycled over the years, using resources that give new life to the work. There is an evaluation of the territory, of the resources, and of how to subtly adapt to generate intensifications with reality.

Quilotoa lookout point at Shalala – Daniel Moreno Flores, Javier Mera, Jorge Andrade. Photo: Andrés Villota. Courtesy: La Cabina de la Curiosidad.


For us, it is fundamental to understand place as a repetitive methodology, since we conceive architecture through a territorial study. We believe that when approaching habitats we have to understand them from their interconnection with their immediate context and with the world in general. Therefore, at the beginning of each work, we do an exercise of immersion to soak ourselves in what the site really is, so that we begin without prejudices, without vices, and without preconceptions. Rather, with reliable readings of the reality of what is tangible and we even approach the intangible.

We firmly believe in action to make calls for attention; with architectural thinking, we can prick on public policy. We believe that each of the projects we carry out are emissaries of issues that should be considered in society.

1— With the treatment of sewage in the projects, instead of being sent to the rivers and polluting them, they stay in the place itself and become the generation of life through plant biofilters and fishponds.

2— With the use of urban solid waste generated by the citizens, the importance of reworking the materials and how we can make habitats with qualities with them.

House at Carrizal – Daniel Moreno Flores y Sebastián Calero. Photo: Andrés Villota. Courtesy: La Cabina de la Curiosidad.

On the other hand, we think that public works make the most sense since they are for everyone, the impact is greater, and they dignify and give the possibility of access to quality of life to people who are in need. The projects we have developed for the common good are now emblematic of the access to architecture they generate and of the possibility of contributing to the growth of the community.


The processes we develop affect us as individuals, so we are convinced that they must be as pleasant and happy as possible for our days to be wonderful. We believe that with constant work, positive changes are made in the community, it is a way of life.

The access to the knowledge of the different themes of our territory will help us to understand our reality and to root in each one of us our identity and our culture, which is always so fragile.