Husks and Hulls: Disparities, Separations and Territories of a Coffee Orchard in Panama
It proposes to sustainably occupy the volcanic landscape of Panama: accommodation for workers, coffee production spaces, and a re-organisation of the coffee plantation to restore lost rainforest space
Coffee, as an international commodity and unique agricultural product, materialises global economic disparities. Consumers in urban cafés, while showing increasing concern for the origins and supply chain of their coffee, pay prices significantly higher relatively than the wages paid to those who pick the coffee. Among those countries in which coffee can be grown, this disparity is particularly pronounced in Panama. Panama possesses a unique combination of nutritious volcanic soil and humid climatic conditions which make it ideal for coffee production, making it the source of the world’s most expensive coffee. And yet, most coffee orchards are reliant on seasonal migrant workers from a protected indigenous reserve for labour. These workers, in turn, are dependent on the income from the orchards (from both picking the coffee and a growing economy of coffee-tourism) to engage with the society within which their indigenous group finds themselves enmeshed. Through different, overlapping architectural approaches to the rainforest around the coffee orchards and local weather conditions, which together offer a systematic response to the challenges faced by the workers, Husks and Hulls proposes to sustainably (both economically and environmentally) occupy the volcanic landscape of Panama. It proposes accommodation for workers, coffee production spaces, and a re-organisation of the coffee plantation to restore lost rainforest space. These approaches work across scales: a roof extends the surrounding tree canopy, water-walls service and shelter, and hull-like houses form enclosures protecting against moisture. All engage with water, with shade and growth.