Los trabajos incansables de restauración y buen gusto en diseño de Hache Uve traen un nuevo proyecto en Casco Viejo: Casa La Calma, un edificio restaurado integralmente que consta de 3 niveles y terrazas escalonadas. Con sus ambientes frescos, coloridos y bien iluminados por los ventanales que se desarrollan alrededor de un patio interno y con sus detalles de artesanías locales y diseño industrial, la casa transmite una atmósfera caribeña contemporánea única entre las joyas del Casco Antiguo.
My recent work has been related to a great work of detailed restoration (executed by local Panamanian architect restorer Jorge Arosemena with advisor architect restorer Daniel Young-Torquemada), which took 3 years and was finished in August 2014. The photos were recently published to Revista Area, Issue no. 11 (March 2015).
This church was originally designed by the famous North American architect James Renwick (also known for designing “St.Patrick’s Cathedral” on 5th Avenue, New York City and the “Smithsonian Institution” in Washington) and was built in 1865, in a “Gothic Revival” style. The church, one of the oldest buildings in the City of Colón, presented a high level of damage before these restoration works took place.
It represents one of the richest architectural monuments in the whole country, worth a visit for its unique style present in the region and for its beautifully crafted details.
Some time ago I was able to photograph the new Restaurante la Fragata, awarded with “Best Leisure of Central and South America Property Awards”, designed by Sara Battelli & Partners, a swiss architect based in the Republic of Panama.
When the former Restaurante La Fragata (a historical restaurant in Obarrio, Panama City) was sold to a new owner, she was commissioned the challenging redesign of both the exterior and interior, giving a whole new atmosphere and unique character to it.
The concept for this project is the boat (the “frigate”), and each detail, inside and outside the place, recalls this atmosphere, giving to the gourmet experience a new addition: the feeling of being inside a cozy boat while having a sophisticated meal.
Many poor families have been living for generations in most of Casco Viejo’s old [unrestored] buildings, and some of them are forced to leave their homes at a certain point, due to restoration needs and their costs.
Most of these buildings were abandoned by the owners who let them fall apart: these houses have received no maintenance for years (some of them up to around 40 years) and many of them became dangerous to live in.
It’s a hard reality in Casco Viejo, where most of its charm comes from these local residents and their lifestyle. When they leave their rented homes, the property is usually restored by the owner or promoter, and then sold or rented to someone with better financial facilities, since the cost of construction is now so elevated. Usually it’s a foreigner or, who just wants to have a beautiful colonial house in the Old District of Panama.
Unfortunately, the government doesn’t help much either to promote Social Housing in Casco Viejo, in order to maintain a higher percentage of locals living in the area.
This is where real casco life can hide sometimes…. You see a beautiful, old and huge building from the outside, it’s all messed up, most of the doors are blocked by wooden panels and the whole structure totally needs a deep restauration… it’s hard to believe, looking from the outside, that there’s actually a “day to day life” inside those buildings, with families living there since generations… poor families that find their way to adapt to those magnificent spaces, once very elegant apartments, taking advantage of common spaces with multiple uses… those families are often forced to move somewhere else, in order to let the restaurations follow, but once the work is done, the rent raises incredibly, not to mention the selling prices….
These are just a few new “mushrooms” (as I like to call the new buildings that appear very fast in the city) from many others that would come along later, developed in Panama City…
A view from my former balcony, all these buildings (except for the ones at the left side) were under construction at the time of this shot. Now the buildings are doubled, and there’s almost no land left to let them breathe… same problem like the Cinta Costera sea front.
When is the limit coming? What should happen to see the results of this brutalities?
Another demonstration of how people develop construction, only looking through money glasses.
During my internship in the firm Mallol y Mallol Arquitectos in 2005, I was walking by this building one afternoon, when I got to capture this rare moment of sunset reflection…
I didn’t take it too seriously. It was also taken with a little compact digital camera. But I remember then, when my design chief J.C.S. saw it, that he just fell in love with it.
I got the opportunity afterward, to publish it on the firm’s monograph book, as well as in other little magazine’s publications, together with other photos I took of the same architecture firm’s works, which were also exhibited at the Architecture Congress of 2005.
Funny how a “casual”, vanishing moment of reflection, can sometimes transcend into good, longer lasting work…!