The big reveal

Gallery

This gallery contains 25 photos.

The PVC pipe that will hold our electrical wiring is first installed and then the electrical wires are pulled through using a fishing mechanism..  No rust here. You can see the new forms being built that will hold the steel and cement in the adjacent … Continue reading

The terrace arches get formed

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

You can see the work involved in building the forms that will make the curved Spanish Colonial arches that will face the pool.   The work was long and laborious.  You can see the amount of steel we are using and how it’s being … Continue reading

Spanish Colonial Design in Panama

When I first made the decision to build in Panama, one of the things that became very clear to me was the importance of having someone to help me with designing and incorporating elements of an SCR house but most importantly source the necessary materials.

I interviewed two interior designers that were native Panamanians.   They showed me their work and I was impressed by one of them but her work was almost entirely contemporary design with clean lines, minimalistic elements and finishes.  I soon  realized that while Panama has a rich history of Spanish Colonial architecture dating back to the 1500’s, it was limited to the old city or Casco Viejo and a few homes dispersed throughout the city.  Quite simply, when old homes were torn down, they were replaced with newer homes which lacked the decorated Spanish Colonial influences.

Previous to 1989, Panama was governed by Noriega and a large part of its population lived in poverty with little or no middle class.  Most of the population were simply laborers who worked for less than $300 per month and many of the homes reflected a utilitarian lifestyle.  The decorative style of Spanish Colonial influences were reserved for those that had wealth.  The majority of people lived in very basic housing and in some cases, shanty towns made up of simple shacks with tin roofs and no running water.  So it would make sense that after the dictatorship ended and the Panama Canal returned to the citizens of Panama by the US government, Panamanians and the bureaucrats that ran the city adopted a more modern outlook towards the city’s development.

With the exception of the Canal Zone, which tends to favor Plantation style housing built by the Americans and the US military, the downtown skyline of Panama is very new and modern.  New homes tend to favor a more modern styling.

Furniture stores carry furniture imported from europe to match the newer styles and there appears to be an attitude suggesting that anything not modern represents the past and that just won’t do if you’re trying to show the world that Panama is moving into the 21st century.

Having said that, there is a strong movement to protect Panama’s  history and heritage. Casco Viejo, an eclectic mix of Art deco, Caribbean and Spanish Colonial style was designated a world heritage site by UNESCO a few years ago.   There are now regulations in place to ensure the old city maintains it’s integrity and look by limiting the type of construction and modification of its buildings.   Any construction requires approval by the council to ensure the renovation plans meet the requirements.   Facades must be maintained and the heights of the buildings must also remain intact and not be increased.  Developers that focus in this area have done wonderful restorations of beautiful historic buildings choosing to replicate hand painted tiles instead of replacing them with modern tiles.  Facades that were falling apart are now completely restored and resurrected into their orignal form that reflect the care and attention of the artisans of that period.