STUDY AND CATALOGUING OF INDIGENOUS VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE IN WESTERN PANAMA
The results of a research project on the vernacular architecture of indigenous communities in western Panama are presented. The field of study focuses on the indigenous territories of the Ngäbe, Buglé, Naso and Bribri ethnic groups, close to the border with Costa Rica. All of them belong to a well-defined geographical area and are linked by close historical, social and cultural ties. The constructions studied are based on the use of plant materials from their immediate surroundings, have enormous geographical, historical and ethnological value, and reflect the distinct lifestyles of the people who built and used them. Fully adapted to their natural environment and embracing high levels of environmental efficiency and sustainability, these constructions are nevertheless little known, little valued outside their region (and even within it), and are in serious danger of disappearing due to the introduction of new building materials. This paper presents the results of the current research project which emphasizes the morphology, structure, materials, construction techniques, typology and function of the buildings under study; and presents the working processes related to their construction.