Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt designs rainforest complex to promote eco awareness in Panama

Graduate shows 2016: Bartlett graduate Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt has proposed an ecological education facility that circles a lake within a Panama rainforest (+ slideshow).

louise bjornskov schmidt bartlett graduate rainforest walkway panama

Bjørnskov Schmidt's project is a response to what she perceives as failings in the education system to properly promote awareness of the vital role the tropical rainforest surrounding Panama City plays in supporting city life.

The city's economy is largely dependent on shipping in the Panama Canal, which in turn relies on the rainforest for its supply of freshwater.

louise bjornskov schmidt bartlett graduate rainforest walkway panama

The proposal for a "learning landscape" in the rainforest seeks to provide an extension of Panama City's public school and university system, offering an immersive environment in which visitors can experience and learn about the country's delicate ecology.

Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt's rainforest walkway promotes ecological awareness in Panama

"Protecting the rainforest from deforestation and creating sustainable economic alternatives are crucial for Panama City's future," Bjørnskov Schmidt told Dezeen.

"This project focuses on the role of education in raising this awareness for the city's reliance on the natural environment for its own prosperity."

Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt's rainforest walkway promotes ecological awareness in Panama

Bjørnskov Schmidt completed the project, entitled Frame of Mind, as part of Unit 16 on the masters programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. The brief called for projects that "reflect through action".

Her design comprises a circular path that extends around a lake in the forest.

Visitors enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest as they make their way between educational facilities contained in structures arranged around the circumference of the path.

louise bjornskov schmidt bartlett graduate rainforest walkway panama

"The main concern of the learning path is to slow down movement, and make the path itself a means of experiencing the surroundings by stimulating the awareness of the relation between the city and nature," added the designer.

louise bjornskov schmidt bartlett graduate rainforest walkway panama

"In addition to unfolding the lake panorama, the bridge establishes a conversation about natural freshwater, local ecology and sustainable development," she continued.

"Thus, the path merges the qualities of a corridor, a bridge, a public space, a sculpture and an extension of the classroom."

Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt's rainforest walkway promotes ecological awareness in Panama

The bridge's circular form facilitates a continuous connection with the changing environment, as visitors navigate their way around.

By limiting circulation to this single path, opportunities for interaction with other visitors are also encouraged.

Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt's rainforest walkway promotes ecological awareness in Panama

Embedded carefully in the existing foliage, the structure features a repeating motif of arching forms that are intended to represent a simplified section of a palm tree and therefore enhance the visual connection with "the architecture of the forest".

Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt's rainforest walkway promotes ecological awareness in Panama

Taking inspiration from local materials and techniques, rammed earth and painted steel would be used for the majority of the construction. Both materials reference the excavation and construction of the Panama Canal.

Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt's rainforest walkway promotes ecological awareness in Panama

The project is on show as part of the Bartlett Summer Show, which runs until 9 July at 140 Hampstead Road, London.

Also at the Bartlett's show, Joanne Chen exhibits a proposal for a factory based on the Socialist ideals of William Morris.

louise bjornskov schmidt bartlett graduate rainforest walkway panama
Lower level floor plan – click for larger image
louise bjornskov schmidt bartlett graduate rainforest walkway panama
Upper level floor plan – click for larger image