Jambatu Center

Exhibition space and promenade

Exhibited laboratories and ranaria

Marsupial botanic garden

Ground floor plans

Exhibition building section

Bird's-eye view (photo: Matías González)

Exhibition building (in construction)

Exhibition building (in construction)

Laboratories facing the marsupial botanic garden

Expansion of the Jambatu Center for Amphibian Research and Conservation

Quito, Ecuador

Under construction

Design team:
Santiago del Hierro, Gary Leggett, Gabriel Moyer-Perez, Paula Izurieta, Hugo Acosta, María del Carmen Burbano, Sergio Calderón, Erick Álvarez, Estefany Mena, Abel Coenen
Construction team:
Espinosa & Pachano (Phase 1), Manuel Poma, Manuel Pilatasig (Phase 2)
Luis Coloma, María Dolores Guarderas

The Jambatu Center is one of the world’s leading institutions in amphibian research and conservation. It sits at the gateway to some of the most biologically diverse areas of the planet and is managing a very important amphibian collection containing nearly 3000 individuals, which include 29 endangered species of frogs and toads. Most of these are only alive under captive conditions.

Besides conservation strategies that include ex-situ and in-situ reproduction, biobanking and the sustainable use of genetic resources, the challenge that is now embraced by Centro Jambatu is education, given the need of massive efforts to increase knowledge and make the public aware of the amphibian crisis, and what needs to be done to save many species from extinction.

The design of new exhibition spaces, laboratories, bioteria, saparia and other facilities signals a critical chapter in the life of the center. It represents, on one hand, an important step towards improving the conditions of Jambatu’s research facilities, and on the other, it shows a desire to share the center’s work with the local population—to bring the public into the sciences, to bring science into daily life.

A five meter retreat from the sidewalk creates a public threshold between the city and the center, where people may peek at the interiors through a porous facade. It is a private space of public use during the day. Visitors can then enter from the side to a long exhibition hall that includes a bioterium (cricket husbandry facilities) and terraria for seven iconic amphibian species. They then move on to the ranaria and laboratories, where current scientific work is taking place. A main challenge in the project was to find ways to link research spaces to a public route, without reducing the privacy and isolation necessary for laboratory procedures.

On the northern part of the site, a restored building houses the cultural center, offices and higher-end laboratories. A long, dark space is located on the floor below at the end of the circulation loop, and is meant to act as an immersive tunnel, a room-sized terrarium where visitors can experience the frog’s climatic environment.

Finally, in the lower part of the site, towards the Pita river, there is a marsupial botanic garden that acts as an open laboratory for reintroduction essays of 6 species that used to live in Quito until recently and disappeared from the urban landscape due to habitat loss.

Cover photo: Centro Jambatu