An attempt to recreate the various juxtapositions in the city’s landscape, this residential project with sustainability at its core also doubles up as a green oasis for visitors
Located on the Guayas riverfront in the port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador, this residential project was designed for Quito-based developer Uribe Schwarzkopf. It comprises six residential towers atop a mixed-use plinth that creates a lively, landscaped “valley” on its roof. The design is inspired by the many juxtapositions found in Guayaquil itself—from the broad expanse of the river contrasted with nearby mountains, to the sight of modern high-rises on the shoreline set against the colourful hillside settlements of the Santa Ana hill.
The Hills add a dramatic new addition to the Guayaquil skyline. The project is located in Puerto Santa Ana, extending the boulevard that is gradually being consolidated along much of the city’s waterfront. The six residential towers range from 92 to 143 metres, rising taller as they step away from the riverfront, thus echoing the way the city ‘steps up’ from the waterfront to the hills behind.
At the base of the project, the towers merge together to form a terraced green valley that contains an oasis of pools, sports fields and a large urban amphitheatre facing the riverfront, all surrounded by lush, natural vegetation. Inside this base are shops, a large community clubhouse, and other amenities. Between the four towers located closest to the river and the two towers at the rear of the development is a deeper ‘canyon’, providing extra spaces for retail and creating a route for pedestrians to cross the site at ground level, while also enabling the project to be built in two phases.
“The complex is almost a city in itself, with towers of different heights, so it’s a mini skyline. But it’s also part of a larger skyline along the promenade,” says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. “It was important for us that the project was not just an island in the city, but that it offered access to others as well, that it would give something back in the form of a public plinth. So it’s a very exciting space for people to go to, somewhere that we hope people can meet with friends. At the same time, the balconies that characterise the towers offer space for greenery as well as protection from the sun and rain.”
At the project’s outer edges, the design of the façades reflects the visual language of its neighbouring high-rises—white balconies arranged in straight orthogonal lines. The façades facing the void between the towers however, provide a very different character to the development. Here, the straight lines give way to balconies with flowing curves that create irregular setbacks and overhangs. Earth tones on the lower levels gradually give way to lighter colours closer to the sky. On all levels, plentiful greenery lines the balconies, extending the atmosphere of the central valley up to the top of the ‘hills’ that surround it.
Many of these features were developed to provide a sustainable response to the warm climate of Guayaquil. The wide balconies shade the glass facade, while the positioning of the towers and the curved shapes help to improve ventilation, allowing breezes to flow across the site unimpeded. The abundant greenery helps to cool the surroundings, thus reducing the amount of energy needed to cool the building and making the valley itself a comfortable, welcoming environment for both residents and visitors. The Hills will be supplied with renewable energy from photovoltaics, providing a large part of the energy used in the communal areas and residences. In addition, the project will also collect and store rainwater for irrigation use in the gardens, while LED lighting and heat pumps reduce the overall carbon footprint of the development.
Inside the towers, The Hills offer a wide selection of apartment sizes and types, everything from small apartments for individuals to bigger apartments for families. Along with an abundance of amenities, the project features a vibrant public program and plentiful retail options, ensuring that the building will be used throughout the day by a diverse group of residents and visitors—making The Hills a dynamic and exciting new destination in Guayaquil.
Images: © MVRDV
Project: The Hills, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Architects: MVRDV, Netherlands
Client: Uribe Schwarzkopf
Size and Programme: 180,000 sq m; mixed-use residential, retail, leisure
Founding Partner in charge: Jacob van Rijs
Partner: Frans de Witte
Design Team: Fedor Bron, Fouad Addou, Anouk Wilmering, Teodora Cirjan, Laurens Veth, Aneta Rymsza, Samantha Gazzolo, Diego Lopez, Alberto Canton, Sandra Baggerman, Pavel Basmanov, Natasha Trice
Environmental Advisor: Peter Mensinga
Visualisations: Antonio Luca Coco, Pavlos Ventouris, Luca Piattelli, Angelo La Delfa, Jaroslaw Jeda, Marco Fabri, Stefania Trozzi, Ciprian Buzdugan, Luis Perona
Copyright: MVRDV Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs,
Nathalie de Vries
Co-Architect & Interior Architect: Uribe Schwarzkopf
Structural Engineering & MEP: Grupo Vera
3D Animation: Vero Digital
Year of Completion: 2022