Builder of Dreams
By Henry George Noël
Photographs Courtesy of Vintimilla Constructora
To talk about the architectural influences incorporated into the culture, language, and customs of Ecuador, one must begin with the history of the territory known as Ecuador. Ecuador has been inhabited for about 11,000 years and these inhabitants have influenced the culture, language, and customs of its peoples.
Architecturally, Ecuador’s largest and latest influences were, of course, from the Spanish after arriving in 1531 and conquering the Inca in 1532. But before the arrival of the Spanish and even before the rise of the Inca Empire, Ecuador was the home of a number of ancient tribes whose skills and architectural prowess has stood the test of time.
The arrival of Francisco Pizarro’s expedition began the Spanish influence in the architecture of Ecuador. This Spanish-colonial architecture is found in every city and town that was ever visited by the Spanish. From the oldest monastery to the newest and most modern city, the Spanish look and feel is undeniable.
In Cuenca, we are surrounded by the beautiful architectural works with Spanish and other European influences such as the Old and New Cathedrals, the Mayor’s office, the Old Justice building, and many others that have been well-preserved.
More recent years have seen several newer buildings depart from the classic Spanish colonial style that typifies the region. Modern architects often draw inspiration from current world-wide trends, and the more modern cities in Ecuador boast newer and older sections with very different architectural styles.
One such architectural firm leading this transition from the old to the new is Vintimilla Constructora. Vintimilla Constructora is one firm looking to make a statement by designing and building unique structures in Ecuador. With offices in Cuenca, Salinas, and Guayaquil, they are making a name for themselves.
Vintimilla Constructora was started in 1965 by Ing. Marcelo Vintimilla Borrero father of the present owner, Arq. Pablo Vintimilla. Facing the challenges of modifying traditional architectural designs and innovating building practices while bridging the old technologies with new technologies, materials, and building methods has not been an easy task. “It is difficult to get others (legislatures and the public) to let go of traditional workmanship while introducing new, artistic, innovative, and safer construction methods altering the types of construction methods familiar to everyone.
“I am 57 years old and a native Cuencano. I am married with three children all of whom work for the company. I worked for my father and decided to study architecture. With 39 years of experience in design, architecture, and construction, I have seen this industry change quite a lot. I am a lover and breeder of horses, and I participate in equestrian harness competitions. It is a sport which allows me to be close to nature, and it is this closeness to nature I like to incorporate in my designs.
“Our construction activity is 90% residential including apartment buildings, housing developments, and single-family homes with the remaining 10% being commercial land development and business construction.
“Our offices are located in Cuenca at Av. Ordoñez Lasso and Calle de Higuerillas, in Salinas on the ground floor of the AQUAMIRA apartment building located on the malecón and in Guayaquil on Avenida Pedro Menendez Gilbert. We are a family-owned and operated business. By having my two daughters and my son assisting me, we add the latest generations’ knowledge to exemplify future construction styles, innovations, and environmentally sound concepts to our industry. We employ approximately 250 people who are treated as part of this family. Our internal team as well as the professionals needed for every aspect of construction and design join together to build the dream home or business facility of our valued clients.
“Our biggest challenges continue to be the development of projects that meet the expectations of our national and international clients, complying with and educating regulatory agencies on better and safer construction methods and materials, and placing the environment above the needs and wants of everyone. We use the latest technologies and methods to harmoniously integrate our projects to meet and exceed the cities’ requirements under their urban development plans.
“In the past 15 years we have seen a significant growth of international residents settling in our country, especially Cuenca, including many Ecuadorian citizens returning home after years of living abroad. This influx of internationally astute buyers has helped the real estate market grow in Ecuador.
“However, this has also created expectations for higher quality, modern, safely constructed, and environmentally friendly residences. This influx of people has also created the demand for new products never before available in Ecuador along with guarantees and higher quality expectations.
“As a company, because of the growth in population, we realized that we had to develop alternative projects that satisfy these new users. We understand, for example, the important needs of young people who have recently married and now seek their very first home. The demands are always changing, and as a company, we realize we must change with these demands.
“The construction industry has moved from doing the same thing the same way to being one of continuous innovation and improvement. We can no longer design and build using old-school methodologies. Our learning and experience over these many years has provided us a framework of continuous improvement and innovation all because the needs of our clients are continuously changing: newer and better improved spaces, technology, finishes, designs, and materials that incorporate our clients’ dreams. As a result, we have become better innovators.
“It has taken some time and a lot of pressure on legislatures to allow many of the newer and better-quality products into Ecuador from all over the world. This has led to Ecuador now manufacturing many of the latest construction products in-country. This merging of imports and manufacturing is opening the door to higher quality, safer, and more environmentally friendly construction products than ever before.
“We are far from done. Because Ecuador is located on the Ring of Fire, we experience many earthquakes. The devastation in Manabí was a wake-up call to legislatures that they must to do something other than enabling the status quo. Our company policy, apart from providing the best service and design of our products, is to provide the greatest security to our customers. Because of this, we have been at the forefront of the use of quality materials incorporating the latest technology and safety standards which allows us to say we have never had any type of accident in our construction provoked by these types of catastrophes in our country. This is because we not only comply with all the required construction standards; we exceed them.
“It is our desire to be the innovative architectural leader designing the future, not simply follow those who think they are the leader.”
What’s the next beautiful project in Cuenca? A yet unnamed apartment building at Av. Juan Iñiguez and Gonzalo Cordero Dávila.