Reuse of Howard Air Base unifies ecology and great urban space
Located at the Pacific entry to the Panama Canal, Howard Air Force Base offers an unprecedented reuse opportunity to create a vibrant new urban core. In 2007, developers London & Regional Panama launched a design competition seeking a 'clean, green and new' master plan for the 350-hectare centre of this former U.S. air base. The design brief called for a sustainable yet dynamic solution for businesses to grow and provide an alternative living environment to nearby Panama City.
The winning entry – Panama Pacifico – unifies the rich urban program with its incredible natural setting of lush forested hills and significant wetlands. The verdant habitat, drainage patterns and topographic views strategically define the design framework for the master plan, which includes three districts, and a total of 15,000 residential units, 350,000 sq m of commercial / retail uses, and nearly 40 hectares of public parks and open spaces.
To create a comfortable living and working environment in a hot and humid tropical climate, the master plan utilises passive design strategies to cool, drain, and shelter spaces from intense sun and rain. This strategy draws upon the architectural precedent of traditional Panamanian vernacular that prioritises walkable experiences enhanced by arcaded buildings, great tree-lined streets and animated plazas. An extensive open space network enhances the local ecology through the incorporation of linear 'green fingers' and 'greenways' that are designed to drain, clean and reuse water while interconnecting neighbourhood parks.
With the plan complete and guidelines in place, the client has begun to steward a first construction phase fully demonstrating the plan principles. Anticipating the project’s completion by 2040 with a combined population of 100,000 people, Panama Pacifico will offer an enduring vibrant urban experience that also melds with a system of ecologically engaged open space.
This project was completed in collaboration with Hargreaves Associates