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Global Brigades Panama
Gatu, Veraguas, Panama, 2010 (Incomplete)

Several Kilometers north of San Jose Arriba is Granja Gatuncito, a cooperative farm owned and operated by five partners that grows corn, fish, rice, peppers, plantains, cabbage, beans, guandu, otoe, mango, tomatoes, limes, chickens, and pigs. While the farm is a main source of sustenance for the partners’ families, it suffers from the same inclement weather that effects the livelihood of so many other farms in the community.

Although the partners, GAB volunteers from the University of California Los Angeles, and I designed a large work space, we also developed a scheme for this small storage pod, in which the partners could keep products ready and waiting to be transported to market. This new space was a significant improvement over their old bodega, located nearly a kilometer from the main road, and almost impossible to access during heavy rains.

GAB volunteers from the University of California Los Angeles participated in daily farming and construction labor, interviewed each cooperative partner, studied local building practices and available materials, and charetted nightly to produce designs for two separate structure in just five days.

The storage pod was built entirely by the partners, using as guides only rudimentary computer diagrams and my field-drawn plans. The structure presented an opportunity for both GAB and Granja Gatuncito to experiment with new construction strategies, including stone walls and a sod roof.