PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAs the world shifts towards increased urbanization, issues of social inequity also begin to rise to the forefront, often affecting most critically those citizens who are economically disadvantaged. Areas in which there are fewer resources to defend against the negative impacts of rapid urban development tend to become a detriment to those citizens living in said areas. Such is the case with Panamá, a nation suffering from economic inequality post-rapid urbanization, much to the detriment of its citizens. Even with substantial economic growth over the last decade, Panamá still boast the second most unequal distribution of income in Latin America (Archibold 2013). The “high-value” service industries that dominate the Panamanian economy total an approximate 75-80% of the country’s annual $30 billion economy – an indication of a possibly thriving job market (Lilly and Associates, 2012). This places Panamá in a unique position to begin the mitigation of economic inequality. Colón, traditionally known as Panamá’s “Second City”, is home to the largest free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere, the Colón Free Zone (CFZ), and has been greatly impacted by this uneven distribution of wealth (U.S. Department of State 2015). Even with much emphasis on improving the CFZ, via talks of a new international airport and port expansion, little attention has been given to the city’s residents (Lilly and Associates 2012). Colón’s ideal Caribbean coastal location, beautiful tropical landscapes and historic architecture make it a prime location for trade, tourism and urban development, leaving no evident reason for the desertion currently being experienced by its citizens and landscape. The number of challenges facing Colón coupled with the city’s historic, cultural and economic significance have created a complex blend of contextual factors begging for exploration. Moreover, many of the problems in Colón deserve considerable analysis as it is in desperate need of revitalization. These challenges, problems and ongoing concerns, however, are far beyond the scope and depth of the time allotted for this master’s report. Nevertheless, this project intends to highlight some of the key components prohibiting Colón’s development, transforming those constraints into opportunities for growth. The focus of this master’s report is to investigate and conceptualize potential solutions to the issues plaguing Colón. Primarily, this report will examine what contributions landscape architectural strategies can provide to the city of Colón in helping increase quality of life for its citizens. Through cultural resilience strategies, green infrastructure, increased connectivity and sustainable tourism practices, the culminating design attempts to demonstrate how Colón can be restored to its former status as a bustling metropolis of tourism and trade.