Façade Engineering Award of Excellence: Gaia Building, Quito

Gabriela Anker
Principal & Founder
Leppanen + Anker Arquitectos, Quito

Pushing the Boundaries of Façade Construction in Ecuador

The Gaia Building utilizes a repeatable, patterned system to reduce the overall quantity of molds required to create its distinctive white façade. The system, which consists of GFRC (glass fiber-reinforced concrete), sprayed directly onto the surface of the mold, also allows greater efficiency in production and lower fabrication costs. The close relationship between analog mold-making and a parametric digital model proved key to the façade’s success.

The resulting construction was the result of innovation within context. The team already had an understanding of traditional Ecuadorian construction systems, such as the use of concrete fill block and stucco. But to achieve the design intent, new materials had to be explored and existing limitations and mindsets had to be overcome. The building also needed a material that would behave favorably under drastic temperature changes. GFRC’s properties, like high tensile strength, impact resistance, durability, low thermal expansion, thermal conductivity, erosion resistance, light weight and low density led to the first adoption of the technology in Ecuador.

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