Transitional shelters for Ecuador’s earthquake victims

Latitude – Longitude Architecture was very active during the reconstruction phase after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Ecuadorian coast on April 16, 2016. The firm was able to open a disaster relief fundraising account and collect 15.868 USD thanks to the generosity of friends, family and colleagues. With this funds we were able to start a two-phase project: an immediate intervention temporary project and a long term reconstruction project.

The temporary project consisted of providing transitional shelters for 35 families while the long term project consisted on the construction of 2 catholic chapels made out of bamboo, a local material with good earthquake resistance qualities.

At the same time, Latitude – Longitude Architecture was commissioned to develop a building survey and redesign of an eight story building in Bahía de Caráquez, one of the cities most affected by the earthquake that lost most of its touristic infrastructure.

Additionally, we were invited to participate in a competition to design a new church for the parish of Jama, which was completely destroyed during the earthquake.


Location: Rural communities around the city of Jama

Shelters dimensions: 4×4 m and 24 m2.

Year: 2016

Immediately after the earthquake Latitude – Longitude Architecture launched an initiative to fundraise to acquire tents that can act as transitional shelters for families severely affected by the earthquake. We started with a research and analysis of the best types of emergency tents suitable to our needs, considering size, delivery time, climate conditions, and costs.

We proposed to use an Emergency tent produced by Alpinter, a Belgian tent manufacturer, that supplies to nonprofits organizations and government agencies worldwide and widely used on disaster relief projects.

We were able to buy and install thirty five Alpinter “Red” tents for housing and three 24m2 multipurpose tents for community activities (two schools and one for religious ceremonies).

We joined the social work efforts carried out by the Parish church of Jama composed by a priest and three nuns of the Oblates Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus congregation. This group resides and works actively in the area so they had very good knowledge of low-income rural communities affected by the earthquake and that did not receive emergency relief and support from authorities and other organizations working in the area.

We installed the tents together with volunteers and the families chosen to receive them. Once we identified the best place to install, we cleaned the site, and if needed, we leveled the terrain. The tents had a quick and easy assemble method that even allowed the kids and teenagers to help assemble. They were very enthusiastic and eager to “build” their future home for the next months.

This was a unique experience for us. We were grateful to be able to help 35 families and 3 different communities who expressed their gratitude by offering us meals and by sharing time with us and all the volunteers.