Archive for April 11, 2011

gonzales, trinidad, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Houses in Gonzales - Port of Spain, Trinidad

6” x 8.5” Pen, ink,  and Sharpie in Ryman sketchbook

This is a sketch of houses in the residential district of Gonzales, Port of Spain, Trinidad. I went there for the first time recently and was blown away. These houses are quaint, beautiful, and I think worthy of historic designation. The streets are narrow, the lots smaller than the usual, the architecture a lesson in typologies. There are a few houses here that have been renovated, and look nothing like it did in the past. It is unfortunate that someday, these gems may be gone forever due to our continued lack of appreciation for our history, and landmarks. They are an important part of our architectural, social, and cultural patrimony, as are many other buildings in Trinidad & Tobago. Looking down this street, the rhythm of uniformly rusted galvanize sheets, of the same pitch, a gentle slope from one house to the next, almost sings a song…it’s like I hear a steelpan beating a tune. Ventilation blocks, shaded porches, wooden louvres, very humble living.

Settlements like this reminds me of the importance of professionals, in this case architects and planners. Size does not matter. Though small these houses are snapshots of our history. Architects do not just draw plans (see here), well the good ones don’t just draw plans. I think the quality of architecture in Trinidad is nowhere near what it was and could be. It is in a terrible state, especially residential buildings. Seek the advice of an architect people, and if he/ she tells you they cannot because the job is too small, look for another because that professional advice can and more than likely WILL save you money, headaches, and add value to your work through design and much more. Read a bit of the history of Gonzales below:

Gonzales forms part of eastern Port of Spain, Trinidad, south of Belmont and north of the east Dry River. It has historical roots in post-slavery times. After emancipation in 1834, many freed slaves refused to accept apprenticeship or the proposed six years of continued labor on the sugar plantations and vowed to never return. Instead the freed and run-away slaves refused to continue in the system of dehumanization and degradation associated with slavery and so many settled on the outskirts of Port of Spain in communities such as Gonzales. The dependence on the informal job trade was developed as many people established themselves as skilled artisans and craftsmen. They became the driving social force that led the process of diversifying the economic base away from the predominant sugar-based economy. Gonzales demonstrated typical characteristics of communities that were established prior to any formal planning processes in Trinidad & Tobago.”

Reference – The Strategic Planning Framework for Metropolitan Port of Spain

Have a productive Monday!!!!

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This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.