In Quito, Ecuador, the architectural firms Bjarke Ingels Group and Uribe Schwarzkopf have designed EPIQ, a twenty-four-storey residential complex. The wall coverings are inspired by the terracotta tile roofs and textures of the houses in the historic centre, a UNESCO heritage site; brick tile coverings alternate with soft colours with earth tones. Responding to the requests of the design team, Marazzi developed a customised series (from the Bricco line), 6x24 cm porcelain stoneware brick tiles in pale pink and red. For the spa walls of the residential areas, the designers chose the Turquoise colour from the small-size Crogiolo Lume series, inspired by traditional majolica.

Described as a “vertical city”, EPIQ rises twenty-four storeys high and houses residential, commercial and office space in the neighbourhood of La Carolina park in the city of Quito, Ecuador. Its design is inspired by elements of the architecture of the nearby old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This project is environmentally sustainable throughout its development, from design to possible future reuse or demolition. The urban project’s facilities include a grey water treatment plant that will reuse rainwater and a materials archive that will permit building elements to be reused and recycled at the end of their life. The building’s rounded corners and large multi-storey patios – the result of the spaces left between the two building blocks – allow for panoramic views of the city.

The residential block, in its development in two intersecting volumes, forms a vertical neighbourhood that exemplifies a new approach to the integration of urban space with a high-density residential building that aims to promote the concept of community.

“The historic centre of Quito, even with its red terracotta elements laid in a herringbone pattern, is an explosion of shapes, geometry and colour,” commented the founder of BIG, an international avant-garde architecture and experimentation firm founded in 2005 by Bjarke Ingels in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“As architects, we are often a little afraid to play with colour. In Quito, we thought it would be interesting to use it to accentuate the different components and give each volume its own identity,” Ingels remarked.

To develop this architectural idea, Marazzi worked on a customised collection of 9 mm-thick monocaliber fine porcelain stoneware tiles in the size defined for this project, 6x24 centimetres. The product is certified by Greenguard, Declare and HPD, a guarantee of the origin of the materials used to produce it, lower emissions into the air and water, transparent information to the consumer and end-of-life management, with subsequent disposal and recovery of the tiles. This environmental awareness is fully in line with the life cycle design of the new building.

Large green patios break up the compact shape of the tower, overlooking the over 26-hectare landscaped park on which the building stands, providing a prime view for all residents.

“At the south end of La Carolina park, the goal was to create a ‘three-dimensional community’: a constellation of building volumes in different sizes that form a holistic whole and offer residents and their families a variety of spaces, walkways, sun-filled gardens, and areas for play, social life, work, and entertainment,” Ingels added.

A further concession to wellness is the spa area inside the residential tower, which is covered with the super-shiny porcelain tiles from the Crogiolo Lume series in the Turquoise colour. Here, too, the bright colours and ‘handmade’ aesthetics echo the local ceramic tradition and the bright colours of historic Equadorian homes.

The wall and floor surfaces made with Crogiolo’s highly polished and imperfect 6x24 centimetre tiles intercept and reflect the natural light that passes in a unique way through the large openings of the façades opening onto the park.

Ph. Bicubik

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