Country Club and Riding Center at Puerto Escondido

2013- 2015

Status: Ongoing construction


Architect: IM-KM - Mary Elizabeth Burton

Stables Design: Sustainable Stables

Lighting Design: Design Plus Studio

Engineering: Roberto Cigurrista + Francisco Cedeno

General Contractor: Construcciones de Bahia de Puerto Escondido, Juan Herrera, Betsy Cerrud de Quintero, and Crew

Tennis court construction: Turf Masters

Finish Concrete: Seth Crutcher

Site Work + Landscaping + Reforestation: Main International, S.A., Saul Cedeno, Horacio Peralta, and Crew

Furniture by: IM-KM / SCole

On the Pacific Coast of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, a group of property owners joined forces to purchase, connect and preserve the thick tracts of virgin tropical forest that cross and connect their properties. Centrally located between their residences is the Country Club and Riding Center, a luxurious tropical modern compound that marries the hobbies and passions of the residents. The Club serves as a launching pad for recreation and exploration of the 1,200 acre property, and offers areas to congregate, socialize and relax after a tough match or adventurous ride.

The space is a series of outdoor rooms designed around two specific zones: tennis and riding, which are defined and united by interconnected tropical gardens, fountains and old-growth trees. The horse staging area is walled by tropical palms and two linear troughs which fountain into a footwash with a modern stepping stone path that leads to the riders changing rooms. A series of changing rooms were custom designed to specifically serve each activity, with lockers for tennis equipment, or a map room that holds chaps and boots for riding. These modern structures are cement cubes that float above the clubs interconnected gardens, and are bridged to the surrounding tropical foliage through wooden decks. Cedar rainscreens keep the interiors cool during the dry season and divert the rain during the wet season. Throughout the outdoor rooms, skylights were incorporated to provide natural lighting and ventilation, as well as to sculpt light around zones of activity. A central thatched-roof pavilion offers a view of center court, and includes a kitchen and serving pantry so that guests can enjoy drinks and libations pre- or post- activity. Thatch softens the tropical modern design of the club, nodding to the laid-back Panamanian locale while keeping the space cool.

Sustainably harvested wood from the property and passive lighting and cooling throughout the club minimize the carbon footprint. This initiative carries over to the equestrian program, for which we partnered with Sustainable Stables of North Carolina. The design reflects the social nature of horses, and thus doesn’t quarantine the horses to stalls. The horses are allowed their natural inclination to herd, and can choose from series of three grazing pastures of a shaded padding area that offers a cool place to drink water day round. A soil mitigation was performed so that the groundcover now supports a diverse grass species set that provides proper nutrition and enough food for the herd year round.

Originally concepted as a simple, luxurious landing pad to spend an hour or so before and after a match or ride, the Club has become a beloved and functional destination for the residents, and will be expanded in 2016 to include a plunge pool.