Felipe Escuerdo’s vision: luxury with a sci-fi edge

Architect Felipe Escudero brings futuristic style to luxury homes in Ecuador.

With an imaginative, sci-fi edge, he has designed luxury homes, apartment buildings, offices and more, as studio director Felipe Escudero in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. The goal is to use design to bring “the human experience to the cityscape”, he said, but it’s much more than that.

Mr Escudero, 38, previously worked alongside British architect Thomas Heatherwick from 2013 to 2014 at Heatherwick Studio in London, then came to prominence for his innovative house designs that are transforming south-south architecture. American. He’s created homes out of concrete, uses spaceship-like structures for buildings, and still incorporates plants in unconventional ways, whether it’s hanging vines from the ceiling or lining cacti in wooden patterns. grid form.

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With recent zoning laws paving the way for more modern architecture in Ecuador, Mr. Escudero is building projects that hope to put the country on the map as a luxury destination. Its style helps shape Quito as an architectural and sustainable destination. Some of his upcoming projects include Foresta, an open-concept restaurant by chef Rodrigo Pacheo that will open this summer, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Quito, due for completion in January 2023, which he is restoring and modernizing.

Mr. Escudero spoke to Mansion Global about sustainable design using local materials, building the Quito skyline, and his favorite design quote.

MG: How did you come to architecture?

Felipe Escudero: When I was a teenager, my parents had an architect friend who worked in a minimalist and futuristic style, his name was Oscar Niemeyer and he influenced me a lot. He introduced me to designers like Le Corbusier and other architects, and my passion for it started to grow. I studied at Georgia Tech for two years and studied in Europe – in Rome, Paris and Berlin – then I got a job in New York, then I got a job offer from MAD Architects in Beijing, and I was only 24 years old.

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MG: Why did you return to Ecuador as an architect and why are you based in Quito?

EF: For workers and materials, in the use of concrete for example. We also use a lot of earth materials. And the way work is organized in Ecuador, it allows for a different cultural system. Durability is different here. It is a different process to obtain certifications for sustainable buildings. We focus on passive building systems and designing homes that are oriented and shaped to allow natural sunlight and air circulation. The shapes we use in the design, we reuse water and also use solar panels.

MG: What should we know about the luxury market in Ecuador?

EF: It has increased over the past 20 years, since the economy has stabilized and globalization has helped Ecuadorian homeowners see what is out there, what they can enjoy locally. The country has also recently introduced solar panels on many residential buildings and houses. With the clients I have, they want something unique and special, and we can provide that for them here. It is not mainly in the capital, but in the small city of Guayaquil, where the economy is as big as Quito, and the third largest city of Calceta, which is interested in the growth of the luxury market.

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MG: What do the styles of luxury houses look like, in terms of design?

EF: In terms of style, there is a mix of classic and modern design. You can get results here that you can’t get anywhere else, like topography, the landscape has hills and mountains. As an architect, you do different things than you would with a flat space. When clients call me, they may buy a sculpture in New York, but they want something specific from Ecuador.

MG: What was the concept behind your Space Earth project?

EF: This project is in Cuenca, it’s for a digital marketing agency that wanted to have a cutting edge image. There is a healthy food restaurant on the ground floor and a photography studio on the second floor. The second-floor windows are opaque white, letting in natural light, while maintaining that futuristic warehouse feel. We always want to use wellness and nature in our projects, so we hung plants from the ceiling and lined up plants outside in a grid-like arrangement. It is a controlled way of using nature.

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MG: Are you influenced by science fiction or futurism as a style of design?

EF: I’ve always been interested in the future, I’ve watched sci-fi movies and read about technology, 50 years from now. But I also love nature, so I merge the two. I love the design of spaceships, the organic shapes and design of aliens, and the way they communicate in sci-fi movies. A lot of people say my work looks retro futuristic, but it’s just interpreted that way.

MG: What recent zoning laws have allowed modern architecture to enter Ecuador. Do these new construction projects hope to put the country on the map as a luxury destination?

EF: Yes, it came with the wave of economic development about 15 years ago, along with the rise of solar panels here and housing development in general. The laws had to change. Now taller buildings are allowed to be built, over 40 stories, which was the previous limit. There are no style restrictions, but I think developers are encouraged to create more sustainable buildings, and how they relate to each other and the community. The creation of public spaces in buildings is also strongly encouraged.

MG: What inspired the modern, futuristic style of luxury buildings we see in Ecuador?

EF: When Bjarke Ingels Group designed its first project not just in Ecuador but in all of South America, the IQON residential tower in 2018 in Quito, it made people think of Ecuador as a design destination, it helps culturally. The government is also trying to invite newcomers looking to invest. In general, Latin American constructions are fast. In a way, they are constantly changing. My design for the Magnolia house in Los Arrayanes, where the weather is better than in Quito, is a good example of this because there is more room for expansive luxury properties here. It’s great for a luxury destination.

MG: What is your personal definition of luxury?

EF: I love this question. I think luxury is something that goes beyond necessity. For me, it adds value to your experience. With food, you can prepare it to survive, or with an amazing ingredient, have it well planned and present on a plate that is going to give an enhanced experience. This can apply to everything from food to design and travel. Enriching experiences. When it comes to design, luxury design is attention to detail. It goes beyond your traditional idea of ​​discipline. A building that not only works well, but smells good and looks good too.

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MG: What design quote do you live by?

EF: Oscar Niemeyer is my favorite designer because he was able to synthesize all the parameters of home design into one simple solution. It solved problems with a simple design. He has a quote where he says, “We need fantasy to survive.” I like this idea, as humans we need to think beyond necessity and expand our minds through fantasy.

MG: What do you have to come next?

EF: A project in Santuario, three residential towers and a new tower designed with the same client. We are so excited. We are also about to start our design in the NFT world. We are also excited to go international.

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