Vitality in Architecture. Conference notes: PENDA Architects.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to assist to the 14th International Conference of Architecture: InterAccion in Panama City, Panama, which takes place every three years. 

InterAccion Conference 2017

InterAccion Conference 2017

The event featured some great lectures and one of my favorites was delivered by PENDA design studio. It turned out to be educational and entertaining, and quite visionary as well.

I took a lot of notes so I will share a bit of the outline.


The speakers:

Sketch of the Penda team.

Sketch of the Penda team.

The lecture was called "Growing Up: Vitality in Architecture for a new Generation". 

Overall, the speakers give special significance to the concept of Sensible Architecture, an architecture that is enjoyable for all your senses through buildings that are more healthy, more sustainable and more beautiful.

The talk focused mainly on three points: 


A. Vitality through the nature of materials:

Penda's talk made a strong focus on building green. How can we achieve more economical constructions, that produce less pollution and less waste?

Constructions that can be built down responsibly after its life cycle.

They target the notion of using materials that are recyclable or have ecological benefits by nature, like bamboo which has a long history as a building material in China.


What was possible a long time ago, is possible today as well.
— Fei Tang Precht


Project One with the Birds: 

The focal idea in this project was to design a structure with ecological benefits, flexibility, and uniqueness by shape and material.   

It was conceived inspired in teepee tents, so it causes no harm on the site or the material itself, and it can function as a temporary structure. 

A rope can tie the connection, so no screws or nails are used, which leaves the bamboo in its initial state so it can be reused after deconstruction. 

A rope can tie the connection, so no screws or nails are used, which leaves the bamboo in its initial state so it can be reused after deconstruction. 

The project is modular, so you can enlarge it or reduce it according to requirements. It was originally a concept made for the AIM Legend of the Tent competition, but they are building it right now as a hotel in Ecuador.  


Architecture is part of the bigger pollutants, so there is a huge responsibility for change. 

This is why it is important to expand our vision for ecological alternatives that we can apply in simpler ways, without the obligation of advanced technology.

Innovation doesn’t have to be high tech.
— Chris Precht

Toronto Tree Tower:

One of the projects the team is working on is this high-rise using cross-laminated timber.

They exalt the need of rethinking the higher density residential typology and exploring new materials like CLT, which can make the structure almost 4 times lighter and have a high degree of prefabrication, with a more natural, warm appearance. 


B. Vitality through interactive design

The PENDA team proposes the idea of an interactive architecture, an architecture that connects with the flexibility of this generation.


Architecture doesn’t have to be frozen.
— Chris Precht

The Soundwave:

This landscape sculpture is composed by more than 500 purple fins in varying lengths and shades of purple, perforated towards the top. 

The structure produces light, which is connected to the plaza’s sound system and reacts in a very direct way to the movement on the plaza. The louder the music, the more vivid the movement, the brighter the illumination on the plaza.


New Bauhaus Museum:

The design features two rotating platforms that can open to connect the museum to the sculpture park during the day and close at night.

New Bauhaus Competition proposal

New Bauhaus Competition proposal


Architecture can go beyond to become an element that interacts with people and is able to be flexible in its program.

This is also evident in interior design, where spaces are becoming smaller each time in places like China or even here in Panama.

Furniture has to be more, it cannot be just one object. 


C. Vitality through healthy food.

This point poses a critic on our current food supplying system. It is unsustainable on various levels: the transportation required, high usage of water, an increasing demand.

What if architecture could grow food in your own garden, enough to be self-sufficient?

This is the concept behind projects like the Yin & Yang House. It was designed to be a symbiosis of architecture and nature, a combination of natural food and natural materials.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 9.52.05 p.m..png

In a moment where there is such a high rate of urbanization, Penda speaks of searching the benefits of living in the countryside inside the city.


On the whole, I liked the concept of vitality in architecture because buildings are, in a way, something alive. Architecture is always changing in the way it interacts with the environment, the city, and the user. 

And we must give more to the city then what we take. A building can and should be more.