La Balsanera - Productive Floating House

Natura Futura

Centuries ago, Ecuador’s Babahoyo River and its floating houses were one of the main collection, storage, and rest points on the commercial route between Guayaquil and Quito. Presently, this route has ceased, and the number of floating structures has dwindled from 200 to 25, despite being recognized as an Ecuadorian heritage site.

In recent years, the local government has declared the riverbanks an endangered zone, developing housing solutions that propagate relocation and displacement without consideration of the existing socio-cultural and economic dynamic based on fishing, boat manufacturing, and river transport.

For the triennial, Natura Futura in collaboration with researcher Juan Carlos Bamba have used the exhibition’s resources to rehabilitate a floating house for Don Carlos, Doña Teresa, and their youngest son — a family that has lived on and been sustained by the river for more than 30 years. Carlos repairs wooden boats, while Teresa prepares and sells traditional food to the surrounding community.

Interviews with Carlos and Teresa supplemented the documentation and analysis of their living spaces to trace their specific needs and ideate on spatial solutions. Ample storage is obtained by extensions on either side of the floating house platform with wooden latticework enhancing ventilation and natural lighting. A productive terrace towards the river doubles as a space for social gatherings and a dock for boats.

“La Balsanera - Floating Productive House” presents a scale model, drawings, and visual documentation of this process, charting the resilience of self-organisational, participatory design, recovering contextual artisanal techniques, and seeking to initiate the implementation of public policy that allows for the regenerative inhabitation of Babahoyo’s riverbanks.

La Balsanera - Productive Floating House