Young Designers Feature: Giro Urbano

A new feature of panamArq will focus on young designers throughout the world, with an emphasis on Panama and the Americas. The catch-22 with the design community is that in order to get recognized, you have to build or create something amazing, but in order to have the ability to build something amazing, you must be recognized. panamArq would love to help promote young designers, and move our industry and our cities forward with the help of their talent. The first edition of the Young Designers Feature is Giro Urbano,   a design studio from Panama, that focuses on the design of architecture and public space, whose philosophy “is to create an urban culture through the design, promotion and development of projects that could become catalysts of positive changes and improvements in the quality of life in our cities.”

Giro Urbano is a team of architects and designers, composed of José Isturaín, Alfredo  Martiz, and Héctor Saavedra. I first became aware of Giro Urbano through their Pecha Kucha Panama 3 presentation, which can be seen here.

Giro Urbano’s projects focus on solving the urban problems which Panama City is facing. Their designs seek to inform the public of possible solutions to common problems.  This type of thinking is refreshing in a profession where the public is often ignored in favor of clients with deep pockets.  A few of their projects are highlighted below, but please visit their website for more information. While visiting their site, please take time to sign the “Ley de Concursos de Arquitectura”, which seeks to increase architectural competition for public work in Panama, rather than giving authority to the government to hand out commissions to whoever they choose.

Giro Urbano’s creation of true public spaces, with an emphasis on the pedestrian, shows that Panama City has a bright future. Giro Urbano is just one example of young designers and students fighting for a more sustainable and humanistic city.

Jardines y Huertos Urbanos

“Jardines y Huertos Urbanos is a proposal that intends to give value to the rooftops of buildings in Panama City. With the active participation of the inhabitants of these buildings, it is possible to change a space that is currently empty and unused into urban gardens that would be beneficial for their users because of their ecological and health related advantages.”

Senderos Urbanos

“The project of “Senderos Urbanos” aims at the revitalization of urban passages common in housing neighborhoods of the city. The current state of most of these paths is that of abandonment, degradation, lack of accessibility and lack of security. This proposal aims at turning these urban passages into linear parks mixing accessibility with urban art, greenery, lightning and resting spaces for people.”

Cine en tu Barrio

“Panamanian “architects” have developed a building typology in which the parking space requirements have been solved by containing them in a “box” or “shoe box” of multiple stories resulting from the common practice of maximum occupation of the plot. As a result of this, it is usual to find massive walls built over the property limits, visible until another building is constructed in the adjacent plots.

“Cine en tu Barrio” is a proposal for using the urban voids adjoining buildings in the city, by temporarily occupying them to foster the social and cultural interaction of individuals or communities, with the creation of pavilions, the reinterpretation of urban art and the projection of audio-visual content in the walls.”

Revitalization of Via España

I really love this proposal for the revitalization of Via España because it addresses a major issue which seems to be ignored in Panama. Even though the design is not in depth, it points out the problem and opens up public debate to possible solutions to the disorganized and chaotic beast which is Via España. I have recently become temporarily disabled because of a futbol injury, and I can’t imagine navigating myself through Via España, as it currently stands, a mess of automobile dominated spaces. The creation of public space, with a true organized circulation plan, will hopefully create a rejuvenated Via España which acts as the center of modern Panama City.

“Vía España is an important avenue located in a commercial area of Panama City. Through the years this avenue has changed because of the increasing vehicular traffic in the city, forcing the decision of the authorities to change it from a bidirectional traffic to an unidirectional traffic avenue since the 90’s.

Despite its importance in the city it has a series of direct and indirect problems affecting its daily users, such as environmental pollution, visual pollution, lack of public spaces, lack of parking spaces, lack of accessibility, among other problems.”

“The new project for the Metro of Panama City will pass under Vía España and will have two stations along that avenue, presenting us with the opportunity to renew its urban space.

This proposal aims at the revitalization of Vía España from the intersection with Vía Brasil until the intersection where Iglesia del Carmen is located.

By considering a spatial reorganization and incorporation of new public spaces, the surface is liberated from the invasive presence of cars and the existing parking spaces are relocated to new parking buildings or underground parkings around the sector.

This liberated space will allow the generation of new plazas connected with a better and accessible pedestrian network that will change the character of Vía España to a lineal urban and commercial park.”

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One Comment

  1. Sefa wrote:

    i commend your mission to promote the works of young designers. Most are talented designers like Giro Urbano, but without exposure gets fizzled out by the heavyweights on the architectural scene. The downside is that great ideas are lost. There is a real need for the kind of “green urban rehab” projects Giro Urbano is undertaking in most developing countries. A hybrid team of landscape designers, urbanist and architects. Hope they get a project built because that is the only way people will really understand their vision.