· Area of study: Design, Building, Final Degree Project
· Beginning and ending date: 30th July to 09th November 2012
· Number of students: 30
· Schedule: Tuesdays and Fridays: 07:00 – 08:45
· Credits: 4 hours per week
· Teaching team: Head teachers Álvaro Uribe, Rodrigo Guardia
· Cluster: Argentina – Panama
Theme: Reclamation, rehabilitation and Infill of central Panama City.
The Metropolitan Area of Panama is very dispersed and linked by large roadways forming large spans, but poorly interconnected and without a functional Hierarchy. As in many cities in the region the pattern of a poor center and affluent suburbs is inverted, yet the reality is much more complex and convoluted than most schemata.
One way to approach the problems of dispersal and poor connectivity is by reclaiming, densifying and infilling central lands. Attacking transport from the demand side, not supply. The downtown of Panama City is a heterogeneous and contrasting area, comprised of slums, institutional uses, historical districts, central voids, soft sites, large capital real estate projects, as a product of its transit history and a lack of implementation of planning and value capture tools by the State.
Meanwhile the periphery is formed by large spans of land where 95% or more of the buildings are housing. Having hardly any public facilities for work, commerce, health, education, public amusement, etc.
This mirror image of a small, central, dynamic small stretch of high-rises which dominates the top of mind image of Panama City for its inhabitants, is contrasted by this homogeneous, unwieldy landscapes of houses, approximately half of them self-built in informal settlements and little more. All this is necessarily compensated by a large demand for transportation and exclusion from the socio-economical systems of the city if this need is not met.
Commuting times have reached very high peaks (70 minutes in average) for a relatively small population as compared to other capital cities in the region.
Currently an ambitious investment plan for transportation infrastructure is under way, including: the construction of subway line 1, new viaducts and modernization of the bus system. These investments will impact the downtown.
This is a very particular time in this city’s construction when many of the ways in which it is interconnected, physically and systemically are being intervened and redefined. It is a key moment in which to define strategies to make the most of all the infrastructure investment efforts and help them guide a new city dynamic.
Thus, the present project seeks to advance scenarios of development that will link the impacts of these investments, with a process of rehabilitation and reorganization of this area.
Objectives of the local design studio
The studio will analyze strategies facing the predicted demographic Growth of the Metropolitan Area and the challenges of having to change the current growth model without a tradition of applied planning Instruments.
The main planning guidelines for the Metropolitan Areas of Panama are Densification of the Center and Diversification of the periphery. The design studio will propose developing strategies for these scenarios.
After the diagnostics stage, the groups will choose a locality where to intervene with a central or peripheral strategy. All typologies will consider density, interconnectivity and will have pedestrians and public transport users at the center. The design will have mobility as a core objective.
ADU aims to be tested
1. Interdisciplinary working dynamics: The ability to synthetize physical, socio-economic and qualitative information into a narrative of urban cause and effect, to think as the commuter, the economist or policy maker, with a design objective in mind.
2. Creative thinking and Creative learning environment: To reimagine the city from within and without. The infill and densification strategies for the center and the public facilities and diversification of the periphery. The need to reimagine a better life setting.
3. Social and cultural relevance of the contents and outcomes: City and transportation issues are now, more than ever at the top of mind of public discourse in Panama City, the effect of the simultaneous construction of the subway line 1 and many overpasses of the Roadway Reordering Program, have made long slow commutes into a cultural obsession.
4. Materiality: Mapping and modeling, material and digital analisys techniques, with a special emphasis on GIS, will be applied and explored throughout the semester.
Methodology and relation with partners
The project will be developed as with an initial research phase of some 6 weeks with different site visits and mapping information studies emphasized early on, and other research sources such as writings, and quantitative information. Outcomes of the research and design phases will be posted in a blog for comparison with partners.
- Cultural component
- Ideological-Theoretical component
- Economical Component
- Mediatic component
- Technological component
Alongside each of the products corresponding to the steps outlined, monitoring is done through the presentation of drawings, plans, renderings and, above all, models at different scales.