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Santa Familia: 12 years studying the ideal lifestyle for Casco

We’ve been reflecting on our past experiences as developers in San Felipe and, most importantly, we’ve been listening to our clients.

With our latest project, situated in beautiful Playa Santo Domingo, we wanted to build an iconic residential experience, only possible in a walkable World Heritage Site surrounded by a 70-hectare shoreline right in the center of the city. A place where residents could step out their homes and take a walk on the beach while watching the sunset over the sea.

The final design resulted in 55 individually crafted apartments in which our aim was to create an organic bond between the best of both worlds: the romantic warmth of historical Casco and all the comforts of modern life.

What comes to your mind when you think about lifestyle? 

For us, lifestyle is the sum of where you go, what you do and who you do it with. It is how you spend your time. It is the way you express who you are and what you value. Your lifestyle is not you, but it shapes you.

Santa Familia grew out of the belief that a healthy, intellectually stimulating, community-oriented lifestyle should not require major sacrifices.

This philosophy shaped, backed and became Santa Familia’s core. But, how to make it viable?

santa familia casco viejo oceanfront panama

The Casco shoreline is a 70-hectare temporal park that changes from water sports arena to beach and nature walk every six hours. Few places in the world are surrounded by such a spectacular kinetic sculpture.

Casco Viejo plus all of modern life perks

Santa Familia fronts the almost forgotten Playa Santo Domingo, making it one of the best points in the historic district to feel the breeze and enjoy views from the Pacific Ocean.

Imagine yourself entertaining friends from your own balcony or terrace while looking at the tranquilizing transit of ships going in and out of the Panama Canal. That is one of the experiences we want residents to have on a daily basis. 

And now, the bay cleanup has brought the beach back to life and seems to be feeding a societal thirst for healthy living. For years, we and our neighbors have been using Playa Santo Domingo for everything, from paddleboarding to walking along the shoreline while the sun is setting or practicing yoga on its soft sand.

But, although our friends and clients understood and wanted this lifestyle, the lack of parking spots prevented some of them from moving here. Santa Familia’s planning directly answers to that limitation, as its design has been crafted to offer underground single and tandem parking spaces for those who need them, with discreet entrances on both Calle 4a and Calle 5a so as not to disturb the historic streetscape.

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Santa Familia Casco Viejo oceanfront Panama 4Santa Familia's parking will be concealed unobtrusively underground.

Life within

Not only does interaction matter outside the walls of Santa Familia, but inside as well.

When we developed the American Trade Hotel a few years ago, we learned something valuable: uniqueness lies in detail. As you know, a lesson is not a lesson until put in practice, which we did when designing Santa Familia’s common spaces.

In most buildings, social areas are impersonal places lacking the warmth that make them an extension of your own home. It is hardly the place where you would picture yourself spending a memorable moment.

Santa Familia will be the first and only project in the city to have set a curated library based on the residents’ interests. An intimate place to relax, read a book and have stimulating conversations.  

Its open patio will be the bonding point between Casco’s outside natural richness and commodity. Santa Familia will have bright oceanfront spaces for sunny days and sunset gatherings, as well as a cozy dining room and terraces for more intimate evenings.

Additionally, the project will have a spectacular 25-meter lap pool overlooking the Pacific next the private ocean club that includes a gourmet barbecue kitchen.

Santa Familia oceanfront Panama Casco Viejo 5The Santa Familia site begged for a connection to the sea. The project takes advantage of the exotic contrast between Playa Santo Domingo’s expansive ocean views and the cool protected gardens within the site.

A community-oriented culture

Modernity really means efficiency. The walkability culture experienced in Casco, where every service is steps away from home, and spontaneous social encounters with neighbors happen as you leave a museum or walk your dog in one of Casco’s many plazas, make of this place within the city the closest model of what the great urban philosopher Jane Jacobs once described as the “ballet of the street”, that stimulated significant chance meetings and a real sense of community.

For people who like this kind of lifestyle only a walking district will do; suburbs isolate them, and towers make them feel too anonymous. 


We will be sharing a lot more insight of Santa Familia in our Instagram feed and micro site devoted to the project. In the meantime, if you are interested in knowing more about Santa Familia, our sales agents at Arco Properties will be more than happy to give you a tour. 

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