The project is part of an architectural research carried out at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. It engages in a creative dialogue with notions of mass, developable surfaces, patterns and transparency. Designed by Bika Rebek, under the guidance of Gregg Lynn, this Final Thesis project explores the threshold between industrial structures and nature.
While waiting for their cruise ship to pass the lock, the visitors of the Panama Canal are kept exposed to the exuberant diversities of the area through biomimicry of the metal-sheet envelope and heavy masses of concrete. The narrative of the organic flow is free from interruption. Instead of juxtaposing the visual abundance of the natural surroundings with restrained imagery of the waiting room, the design introduces visitors to a range of ambiences. Moving through spaces with different identities and climate zones, they encounter planthouses, aquariums and exhibitions, conceived with the purpose of elaborating on the richness of the area surrounding the Panama Canal. One side allows for spectacular views onto the water lock, while on the other side visitors take a walk into the jungle canopy. The fragility of the façade mimics the dense jungle treetops, allowing natural lighting to filter through the interior and blur the line between spaces. The new building for visitors seems to emerge from the jungle and encompass the locks, reclaiming its territory.