“...a roof of heavy and large covers is laid out, and in the
deep, spacious shadows created by the eaves the rest of
the structure is built.”
Jun'ichirō Tanizaki - In praise of shadows
Located in the heart of the Darien tropical rainforest, the Red de Vida Pastoral Center is the home of the Santa Fe community. It was born from a set of needs generated from the synergies between a group of activists who have been working with this community for more than 35 years and is a direct response to the natural context in which it is implanted.
The essential needs of the project are solved on a single level. The function of the spaces varies and goes from an Ayurveda medicine office to a locally produced kitchen, to dormitories and a community dining room.
This 380m2 building is covered by a large four-sided metal structure which offers thermal and acoustic insulation to provide comfort to the inhabitants of the interior space. The solution for the enclosures and general finishes is to use honest materials, whose treatment is only that which is necessary to give them the essential useful life. Bamboo, harvested and cured on site, was carefully woven by artisan hands of the community and dresses the perimeter of the spaces; exposed concrete is present throughout the floor and walls; and steel has been used from its most structural meaning, for columns and roof support trusses, to the softest, for the lattice-type windows through what in Panama we call "expanded mesh".
From the interior space the inhabitant is in direct contact with the natural context thanks to the panoramic arrangement of all the perimeter windows. This condition also allows the entire building to enjoy cross ventilation at all times and to dispense with the use of mechanical devices.
This is a sustainable building. Being completely off-grid, it relies on sunlight to generate the electrical energy necessary for its operation. The Sabana River, which borders the property, supplies part of the water consumed in the center; the other part of the supply is provided by rainwater collection, one of the greatest achievements that produces the greatest satisfaction for the clients.
It is in this way that in a clearing in the forest there is a special place that helps to catalyze the community dynamics of Santa Fe, Darien and Panama.
Álvaro Guerra Jované & Héctor Ayarza
Administración de Obra:
Melinda Roper, Jocelyn Fénix, Clara Mesa
Asociación Red de Vida