On the Pacific Coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, a group of property owners joined forces to purchase, connect and preserve the thick tracts of dry tropical forest that cross and connect their properties, creating Reserva Ecologica Panamaes, a 1,200 acre ecological reserve. Centrally located between their residences is the Equestrian Center, a tropical modern compound that marries the hobbies and passions of the residents. The Club serves as a launching pad for recreation and exploration of the reserve, and offers areas to congregate, socialize and relax after a tough match or adventurous ride.
The space is composed of a series of outdoor rooms designed around two specific zones: tennis and riding, which are defined and united by interconnected tropical gardens, fountains and old-growth trees. The horse staging area is walled by tropical palms and two linear troughs which fountain into a foot wash that leads to a series of changing rooms and lounges custom designed to specifically serve each activity. Teak rain screens keep the interiors cool during the dry season and divert the rain during the wet season. Skylights were incorporated to provide natural lighting and ventilation, as well as to sculpt light around zones of activity. A central thatched-roof pavilion offers a view of center court, and includes a kitchen and serving pantry so that guests can enjoy drinks and libations pre- or post- activity. Thatch softens the modern design of the club, nodding to the laid-back Panamanian rancho, while keeping the space cool.
Sustainably harvested wood from the property and passive lighting and cooling throughout the club minimize the carbon footprint. This initiative carries over to the equestrian program, a partnership with Sustainable Stables of North Carolina. The design reflects the social nature of horses, and thus doesn’t quarantine the horses to stalls. The horses are allowed their natural inclination to herd, and can choose from a series of three grazing pastures. A shaded padding area offers a cool place to drink water. A soil mitigation was performed so that the groundcover now supports a diverse grass species set that provides proper nutrition and enough food for the herd year round.