TEAM: Mini Chu, Jiwon Hong, Katherine Kwon, Deane Madsen, Maritess Mortera, Alex Pandjiris, Diane Thepkhounphithack, Stephanie Willsey, Ryan Wilson, Lisa Yen
ORGANIZATION: GAB (Global Architecture Brigades)
BRIEF: Design and build a farmhouse in rural Gatuncito, Panama
A group of graduate students at UCLA's school of Architecture & Urban Design formed a partnership with GAB and the local farm community of Granja Gatuncito to build a new farmhouse that would withstand the strong wind and rainstorms that frequent this community. Their previous rancho was caving in, and many of their crops had been destroyed. Profitable farming was impossible in these conditions with farmers having to travel outside of their own farms to make money. Building this structure would provide substantial space for drying and storing various crops for export, the profit from which would help to sustain the farmers' livelihoods.
We traveled to rural Gatuncito during Summer of 2009 to conduct a thorough site and community analysis to better understand the community's needs. During our stay, we held design charrettes with the farmers to come up with a sustainable design. We then returned home to make final design changes, complete construction documents and raise funds for our project.
We came back to Panama in the late summer of 2010 to finish construction on the rancho, but inclement weather at the site was prohibitive, so we traveled instead to Granja Loma Bonita to finish another GAB project already in progress, and made plans to return to Gatuncito in more favorable conditions.
Global Architecture Brigades (GAB) designs and constructs socially responsible and sustainable architecture solutions in developing nations. A think-tank design approach that utilizes extensive community dialogue and independent research to create efficient, appropriate, and elegant structures to be embraced and utilized by those for whom they were built.