Autonomía and Cultural Co-Design. Exploring the Andean minga practice as a basis for enabling design processes


  • Giulia Testori IUAV University of Venice and KU Leuven
  • Viviana d'Auria


The following contribution tackles autonomía by reflecting on the relationship between culture and space and, therefore, on the multiple actors involved in an urban project. This interaction and involvement are envisioned through the approach termed as ‘cultural co-design’. The work is divided into four main sections. First, the mega-minga, an initiative based on the collaboration between citizens and institutions to produce collective urban spaces in Ecuador, is introduced. This is followed by a critical analysis of the mega-minga itself through the specific case of the Comuna de Santa Clara de San Millán, located in Quito. The deficiencies and the potentials of this collaborative practice will be illustrated by contextualizing the mega-minga historically, and relating it back to an evolving customary practice based on reciprocity. The third section of the paper looks at the intrinsic characteristics of the minga practice, explores its decolonizing qualities and the opportunity it represents to re-orient mainstream client-based and for-profit urban design practices in Ecuador. The article concludes by turning once again to the case of Santa Clara de San Millán. It envisions a scenario where autonomi?a is attainable through alternatives supporting a more equitable ‘interaction’ between space, culture, citizens, and institutions.

Keywords: minga, cultural co-design, autonomía, Quito.

Author Biography

Giulia Testori, IUAV University of Venice and KU Leuven

PhD candidate in Urbanism at IUAV Univeristy of Venice in joint-agreement with KULeuven






Special Issue: Autonomía - Design strategies for enabling design process