Ana María Durán Calisto, “The Deep History of Amazonian Agroecological Urban Forests: Why Do They Matter Today?”

Three images of a lush forest near a city and a construction site, from above.

A recording of this event is available with audio description.

Event Description

In this talk, Ana María Durán Calisto will discuss the design principles of ancient Amazonian agroecological urban constellations; the ways in which colonialism disrupted (and continues to disrupt) Amazonian patterns of inhabitation and habitat construction; and the visions Amazonian urban history offers to inform our ability to reimagine future urban ecologies.


Headshot of Ana Maria Duran Calisto, who wears a red-orange turtleneck shirt.Ana María Durán Calisto is an architect, urban planner, environmental designer and scholar from Quito, Ecuador. In 2002, she founded the award-winning design group Estudio A0 with her husband, British-Punjabi architect Jaskran Kalirai. Estudio A0 has designed a diverse array of projects, at all scales, in close collaboration with its clients and community partners. Its building QPH obtained the first Leed Gold of continental Ecuador and was ranked 8th among the 500 best socio-environmental projects in Latin America at the 2015 Latin American Green Awards. In collaboration with Del Hierro AU and L + A Arquitectos, it won the competition for the Ikiam University campus, which eventually was awarded First Prize in the SDSN Amazonia Infrastructure Award, COP 21, in Paris. Its incremental housing scheme received Second Prize in a Social Housing Competition sponsored by UN Habitat. Estudio A0’s projects have been extensively published. Recent features include 30 arquitectos más relevantes de América Latina (Línea Editorial y Lexus Editores, 2020), Office Design (Booq Publishing, 2019), Company Gardens: Green Spaces for Retreat and Inspiration (Braun Publishing, 2019), and International Houses (Taschen, 2018).

Durán Calisto is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the urban planning department at UCLA. Under the advice of Susanna Hecht, she is writing a dissertation on the urban history of Amazonia, with a focus on indigenous systems of territorial planning and colonial disruptions. She is a member of the Science Panel for the Amazon, convened by SDSN & the UN. She co-authored its report ́s chapter on urbanization. In2022, she received the Mark Cousins Theory Award. Durán Calisto is a lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture and has taught research seminars and design studios at FADA-PUCE, the Harvard GSD, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, IAAC, Universidad Católica de Temuco, and UCLA ́s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability. She curated the XV Quito Architecture Biennial: Visible Cities (2006) and was National Curator for the IX BIAU. She co-edited the books Ecological Urbanism in Latin America (2019), Beyond Petropolis: Designing a Practical Utopia in Nueva Loja (2015), IV Taller Internacional de Vivienda Popular (2007). 

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