Enabling Native People of the Galapagos Islands to Succeed In Eco-Tourism

Image of the front of the New School to be built

This spring break I took a trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and they inspired me to try to build something for the people who work on the islands. I learned that there are people who are native to the islands, around 25,000, in fact, and those people are given exclusive rights to work for travel companies from around the world as guides. But, I decided I wanted to help these people provide for themselves by building their own eco-tourism companies. The idea of this school building is to teach the young native people of the Galapagos islands how to run their own ecotourism company, with the help from teachers in fields ranging from biology to business.

While a fairly famous hotel on the island of Isabella, this is the intended building location of the school. The number one reason for this is because of Ecuador’s law which states that only 2% of the land of the Galapagos islands can be developed, so land is a sparse resource in this area. Although to build this school we must tear down a hotel, it does not come without observation of the sustainable development goals from the UN. This new school touches on many areas including no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, decent work and economic growth, sustainable cities and communities, life below water, and life on land. While obviously one school on an island chain in the Pacific Ocean isn’t going to drastically change the world’s standings on any of these issues as a whole, it will provide as a model to other countries that eco-tourism provides far more for an economy, a countries people, and has much more longevity than mining or any other type of destructive activities.

Site plan
Floor plan

The site plan and floor plan give a very general idea of the land the school will cover and how it will cover it. The top image, the site plan, shows how the school will be built with its back facing a pond area which is a very beautiful intercostal area with flamingos, ducks, and many other birds, providing a place for students to have first hand experience with native animal species. Below, the floorpan shows how the class rooms are arranged. The one thing the floor plan cannot depict is that each wall that backs up to another classroom can be opened up to expand classrooms to be large for big lectures or small for individual classes. Also, the walls that face the exterior also open up, allowing every classroom access to the outdoors.

In the comments at the bottom, I challenge you to comment classes that you think need to be a part of this school, keeping in mind that the goal of the school is to allow people to be able to successfully run their own eco-tourisms business.

Images of the School

Outdoor amphitheatre across the street from the school
Courtyard in the middle of the school
Bridge going over the road to connect the school and amphitheater

Original project statement: The users of the space will be instructors and students. It is the instructors duties to teach natives of the Galapagos islands how to run an ecotourism business, while still abiding by the extremely strict environmental laws placed on the land by the government. The students will be residents of the town who chose to learn about how to develop their own business and find new ways to provide for themselves.

When young adults are taught how to successfully run an ecotourism business, it enables them to provide for their family. When this is accomplished, it allows their children to go to college and explore the world instead of being limited to a tiny section of the globe.

The building itself will need many classrooms, restrooms, and outdoors spaces. The idea is to model what a strong business would look like through the school. This school would also need professors who can teach the Ecuadorian laws protecting the environment, biology teachers allowing the students to learn about the science of the islands, and some sort of dock or outdoor classroom system to allow the students to see more than just their native island, enabling them to have a deeper knowledge of the area, and be able to really provide for the tourists and themselves. Finally, the building needs to be extremely environmentally friendly, possibly including a LEED certification.

One main problem that affects the design process is the construction of the building. While there is likely enough land in one of the small cities to accommodate this type of building, it will be difficult to transport many building materials to the islands, thus greatly limiting the resources open to use. The technique of drawing out circles for spaces and slowing refining them into an actual area might be very helpful in allowing me to see what my building will take form as, instead of instantly going to sketch it in Sketchup. I will also likely have to learn about classroom design and how they are designed most effectively because I have practically zero knowledge on the subject.

Please do use the comments section below to provide me with some feedback so that I can further refine my ideas and develop a realistic solution.

The end goal is for this to help people of the Galapagos community, so the main goal is to design these aspects as efficiently and well as possible.

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by Sadie Stinson

    I really like this presentation! I actually went to the Galapagos over spring break also, and I absolutely loved it there. I do agree, however, that there needs to be a better education for the kids there. Especially because the Galapagos are so isolated and hard to get to, I think your idea to create a new center/school is a good one. I was wondering if you had hypothetically budgeted out how much it would cost? Also, I know that the wildlife and and environment is extremely important to the Galapagos. I think you mentioned it briefly, but how would you make sure that you preserve the wildlife when creating this building. Finally, how do you think the locals would react to this plan. As great as it sounds to us, they might not love the idea.

    I think this is a really great presentation overall!

  2. April 29, 2019 by Katherine Olivia Holder

    The inspiration and purpose behind this project is fantastic! Truly a meaningful design. I really like how you considered how to use materials that are available on the island because of transportation – this also will help the local economy. One thing I would consider would be creating a project that the locals want, and not what we think they need. Often outside volunteers don’t do enough research and build what we want instead of what they need, so doing a lot of research of the structure and the classes would be important.

  3. April 30, 2019 by Kate Pitfield

    This design is super awesome! It is so cool that you could create an idea that is outside of your hometown, but somewhere that you have been. I think that this design is super purposeful and meaningful and would definitely go a long way (by people getting an education.) I know that it is hard to do because there is so little land, but your design is super unique. Would taking away the hotel hurt the economy? That is the only thing that would stop me from instantly going ahead to start it. Overall, I think you did a great and thorough job. Good job!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.