Belinda Tato, co-founder and co-director of firm ecosistema urbano
“Society has changed and therefore the profession should react to that”
Belinda Tato, co-founder and co-director of firm ecosistema urbano, is an architect and author creating projects in the fields of urbanism, architecture, engineering and sociology. She founded the firm alongside business partner Jose Luis Vallejo in 2000, based in Madrid, Spain.
“Urban. Social. Design. Three words that describe our dedication: the urban context, the social approach, and the design understood as an action, an interaction, and a tool for transformation. Understanding types of behaviour and processes at different levels is crucial”
They define this approach as urban social design, by which they understand the design of environments, spaces and dynamics to improve the self-organisation of citizens, social interaction within communities, and communities’ relationship with the environment. ecosistema urbano has used this philosophy to design and implement projects in Norway, Denmark, Spain, Italy, France, and China.
Belinda has also taught as a visiting professor and has given workshops and lectures at institutions across the globe such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Cornell, Iberoamericana, RIBA, Copenhagen, Munich, Paris, Milan and Shanghai.
The firm’s most recent projects include a new building for the Reggio Children Foundation in Reggio Emilia, Italy; an experimental urban playground in Dordrecht, Netherlands; the ‘Ecopolis Plaza’, a waste-to-resources building on the outskirts of Madrid; and the Dreamhamar project in Hamar, Norway: a network design project for the redevelopment of the city’s main public space.
“Community first. Cities are created and maintained by people for people, and urban development only makes sense when the community cares about it. We work to empower the communities to drive the projects that affect them, so social relevance is guaranteed”
Publishing a book titled “Ruralism: The Future of Villages and Small Towns in an Urbanizing World”, the publication focuses on the need for a fresh look at rural spaces as “a starting point for transformation”. You can find out more here with Belinda’s interview with the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism.
Belinda and the firm’s work reaches far and wide, recently winning the West Palm Beach Design Competition, titled “Shore to Core”. ecosistema urbano’s project proposal titled “Open Shore” took on the international design competition to reimagine the waterfront of downtown West Palm Beach (USA). The competition invited international designers, planners and architects to imagine the future of this waterfront space over the next 20 to 30 years taking into account many elements of the city’s make-up. Jeri Muoio, Mayor of the City of West Palm Beach stated “Ecosistema Urbano’s design was applauded by all as enhancing the waterfront and creating new, iconic experiences that incorporate our natural resources, cultural spaces, and inclusive urban atmospheres.”