Archive for the ‘Colin Laird’ Category

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Old Fire Brigade Headquarters, Trinidad, colin laird, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

The Old Fire Brigade Headquarters, Trinidad

This is the third day of my dedication to my mentor, friend, and fellow Trinidadian architect Colin Laird, for his contribution to the art of architecture, the profession of architecture, and to the Caribbean’s built environment. Above is a drawing of TheOld Fire Brigade Headquarters in Port of Spain. It was part of the National Library Project… the existing Fire Brigade Headquarters was restored.

“It (Old Fire Brigade Headquarters) is a precious part of our scarce building patrimony and its coarse Victorian presence deserves to be meticulously renovated to its former glory. The original building is in the form of an L shape along Abercromby Street and Hart Street with the distinctive tower power at the junction of the two wings…The 45 degree cant of the Fire Brigade Headquarters Tower within the strict rectangular grid of the area, significantly continues the diagonal path pattern across Woodford Square…emphasizing the importance of the pedestrian traffic to urban communication… This Proposal celebrates the Old Headquarters, or rather its skewed Tower, as an important element of the National Library within the whole composition of the Woodford Square District.” (Colin Laird Associates Technical Proposal for the National Library, 1998).

Previous Post on The Old Fire Brigade Headquarters, Trinidad >>>

Old Fire Brigade Headquarters, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, colin laird

Old Fire Brigade Headquarters and National Library

This is one of my favorite buildings in Trinidad & Tobago. The architecture is rich, recognizing and respecting of our culture, beautiful, poetic, and contemporary. It develops a vocabulary rooted in the genius loci (spirit of place) of the site, and Trinbagonian life. Colin, you are a master builder, designer, mentor, professional, and true friend!

Abstract Architecture of the day:

abstract architecture, thinking inomniac, vernelle noel

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the lion house, trinidad, chaguanas, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, colin laird, architecture

The Lion House - Drawn by Colin Laird

This is the second day of my dedication to Trinidadian architect Colin Laird, for his contribution to the art of architecture, the profession of architecture, and to the Caribbean’s built environment. Above is a drawing of The Lion House in Chaguanas, Trinidad done by him. In April 1991 Surendranath Capildeo retained the services of Colin Laird Associates to advise on and supervise the restoration of the Lion House. The Lion House stands today because of the dedicated work of Architect Colin Laird and Restorer Glen Espinet.

This internationally famous house, one of the most important heritage buildings in Trinidad, reflects North Indian architecture as remembered and self-built, down to the clay bricks, by Baba. It has since been immortalized as the Hanuman House in Vidya Naipaul’s “House for Mr. Biswas.” The house on Main Street, Chaguanas, the ancestral home of the Capildeo family, was restored by Suren Capildeo, Naipaul’s cousin. The house is also preserved in paint by artist, Adrian Camps-Campin.  “Among the tumbledown timber-and-corrugated iron buildings in the High Street at Arwacas, Hanuman House looked like an alien white fortress,” Naipaul wrote. The house was built by Naipaul’s maternal grandfather, Pundit Capildeo, who arrived in Trinidad, aged 21, as an indentured labourer on board the Hereford in 1894.  He came from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, India and his destination was Woodford Lodge estate, Chaguanas.

Within months of his arrival, it was arranged that he should marry the Trinidad-born Soogee Gobin, whose family was well established in the area.  The Gobins, who owned a shop, paid off Capildeo’s bond and as a wedding gift they gave the young couple the land on which the Lion House stands.  Soogee ran a store there while her husband carried out his priestly duties, and in 1923 they began to build the Lion House.  Built in the north Indian style, the trapezoid-shaped house is unique in local architecture.  It has walls almost a foot thick, and Pundit Capildeo is said to have made with his own hands all the bricks used in its construction.  The house contains lot of decorative plasterwork, with figures and patterns embossed on or etched into the walls, and several rooms feature mirror work.

The store occupied the ground floor of the four-storey building, and the family lived above it.  The third floor is taken up by a prayer room, and from the flat roof there is a panoramic view of the canefields of the Caroni plains and the hills of he Central Range.  The lions that gave the house its name stand at each end of the wall around the first-floor gallery.  Vidya Naipaul was born here in 1932 to Pundit Capildeo’s daughter Droapatie and her husband Seepersad Naipaul, but he never knew his grandfather.  Pundit Capildeo died in 1926 while on his fourth visit to India.  His widow, Soogee, became the head of the family.  A strong-minded woman, she had over-ruled her husband’s reluctance to send their children to school, which he regarded as a corrupting Christianising influence.  Thanks to Soogee, even the girls attended school and learned to speak, read and write English.

Soogee bought properties in Woodbrook and travelled to Port of Spain every week to take care of her son, Rudranath, who was to become a university lecturer and politician, while he attended Queen’s Royal College.  It was for the sake of access to better schools that in 1940 Soogee moved the whole family to Port of Spain.  After that, the Lion House was rented out or stood vacant, and fell into disrepair.  When eventually it was renovated, it was with no respect for its original style and structure.  In 1998, however Suren Capildeo, the son of Soogee and Pundit Capildeo’s son, Simbhoonath, has repainted it white and restored the grandeur of the Lion House, which stands as a monument to the indentured Indian labourers.

Sources: http://www.nalis.gov.tt

http://www.thelionhouse.com/

Abstract Architecture of the day:

Abstract Architecture, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac, milton glaser

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Audrey Jeffers House, Sweet Briar House, colin laird, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, architecture, port of spain, trinidad st. clair

South Elevation of Audrey Jeffers House (Drawing by Colin Laird)

Above is a drawing of the Audrey Jeffers House a.k.a Sweet Briar House (a three-story, stuccoed, late Victorian house built by the first black resident in St. Clair) by my mentor Colin Laird. The house belonged to an honorable, giving woman and was drawn here by wonderful, giving man.

Firstly, who was Audrey Jeffers? Audrey Jeffers was a woman who worked very hard for the under-privileged people of Trinidad & Tobago. She gave of her time and efforts freely to help others have an easier life. Born into an upper middle class family on Baden-Powell Street, Woodbrook, on the 12th February, 1898, she did not let that deter her from her mission in life; to work for the upliftment of the under-privileged, to dedicate her efforts in their service. She could not accept that some people could live in such good circumstances whilst for the vast majority misery and depression were the order of the day. In 1921 along with young women who shared her vision, Audrey formed the ‘Coterie of Workers,’ a women’s organization for black and colored middle class women. In the opening address, Ms. Jeffers stated: “Our aim is not to copy man, no sensible woman ever wants to do that, but it is rather to see womanly and courageous women, honest-minded and good, making themselves an intelligent counterpart for men.”  During her student years in Britain, Jeffers had been one of the founders of the Union of Students of African Descent, later the League of Colored Peoples. During World War I she had served among the West African troops and started a West African Soldiers.

Who is Colin Laird? Colin Laird is in my opinion the best architect in Trinidad and Tobago, and one of the most generous persons I know. In early 1997, I met and started training with Colin Laird after using the Brian Lara Promenade as a case study for one of my classes.  Colin taught me about professionalism, ethics, good design, and writing.  His proposals read like poetry! I remember asking him what classes he took to learn to write like that… pure poetry I tell you. This poetry is visible in his writings, his love of music, his drawings, and his buildings. I will dedicate the next days posts to Colin, thanking him for his contribution to the art of architecture, the profession of architecture, and to the Caribbean’s built environment. He has given so much to so many people, and continues to today. Colin, you’re the best and a bookmark in my life!

References:
Caribbean Women Writers: Essays from the First International Conference. Contributors: Selwyn Reginald Cudjoe

Trinidad Guardian >>>

Abstract Architecture of the day:

Abstract Architecture, ralph waldo emerson, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

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City Hall - Port of Spain, Trinidad, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

City Hall - Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch of City Hall, in Port of Spain, Trinidad which flanks the northern edge of Woodford Square. The building is of a modern style. Read below (and click the reference link) for some more information on my mentor Colin Laird, and modern architecture in Trinidad & Tobago.

“THE MODERN ARCHITECTURE of Port of Spain can be seen to have evolved in four distinct phases: 1900–1938, 1939–1961, 1962–1980 and 1981 to the present. Laird and Lewis were independently active after World War II and demonstrate the two primary tendencies which informed architectural production during this period. These influences revealed themselves through, on the one hand, an exported postwar British architectural culture––‘tropical modernism.’ This was a form of modernism derived from the functional, formal and programmatic tenets of mid century European modernism, modified by an interest and concern with the climatic conditions imposed by tropical climates.”

From Modern Trinidad outlined and the Works of Colin Laird & Anthony Lewis by Mark Raymond

[Update: I updated my cartoon posted on Saturday. After I posted it, it was bothering me that I left an important part of the cartoon out… the chair]. Feel free to look at it again >>>.

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TSTT House, port of spain, trinidad, vernelle noel, thinking insomniac

TSTT House - Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch of TSTT House on the Brian Lara Promenade in Port of Spain, Trinidad. This was the third of my 3 sketch delight last week. The TSTT House facade was renovated (I can’t remember what year) by architect, Colin Laird. The exterior improvements included the installation of Aluminum Composite Panels and I believe the screen (see image in this post >>). There is a lovely sculpture by one of Trinbago’s great artists, Carlisle Chang.

About the sculpture:

Instead of gold leaf this time we used silvers of Copper. Unfortunately my technical experts did not advise me carefully and the mural began to show some deterioration within a year, but this has been very carefully remedied, although with some loss of the original handwork that was done on the surface. It, however, remains quite monumental in scope and it is a pity, in fact, that one is never able to see it clear across Independence Square. You can only see it at an angle.

From interview in March 1977 for “Environs”

Click here to read entire interview >>>

Don’t let anyone stop you today.

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National Library, Port of Spain, Trinidad, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel, colin laird

Old Fire Brigade Headquarters (National Library) - Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a sketch I did of the Old Fire Brigade Headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad; which is now part of the National Library block. This project was done by my mentor and friend, Colin Laird who I admire immensely for who he is as an architect, and more importantly for who he is as a human. You can see a photo of the National Library here >>>.

Below is an excerpt of Colin’s description of the Old Headquarters Building:
“It (Old Fire Brigade Headquarters) is a precious part of our scarce building patrimony and its coarse Victorian presence deserves to be meticulously renovated to its former glory. The original building is in the form of an L shape along Abercromby Street and Hart Street with the distinctive tower power at the junction of the two wings…The 45 degree cant of the Fire Brigade Headquarters Tower within the strict rectangular grid of the area, significantly continues the diagonal path pattern across Woodford Square…emphasizing the importance of the pedestrian traffic to urban communication… This Proposal celebrates the Old Headquarters, or rather its skewed Tower, as an important element of the National Library within the whole composition of the Woodford Square District.” (Colin Laird Associates Technical Proposal for the National Library, 1998)

Colin used the Old Headquarters, the 45 degree pedestrian path across Woodford Square, and the city grid to set up the framework for the design and form of the National Library. He is always sensitive to the genius loci (spirit of place); and taught me that by “digging deeper into a site and its surroundings, we can obtain clues that must be respected in what Peter Eisenmann calls “architectural archaeology” as a palimpsest of all that went before, of what was moulded, enriched or even abused.”

Isn’t this poetry in built form?!! This poetry and examination of context and culture, tied in to his use of materials, the program, construction techniques, etc. This is definitely one of my FAVORITE buildings in Trinidad & Tobago. Again, you see the importance of architects (and planners), who do meaningful work?

Daily notes on Architecture & Planning:

(Adapted from the American Institute of Architects – Issues & Advocacy)
Architects & Planners need to get involved in the political (and public education process) because:

  1. Architects & Planners have a lot to give. They impact the lives of everyone in the communities they serve. Architects & Planners need a strong voice on a wide range of issues from community planning, housing, sustainability, building codes, project delivery, historic preservation, and a wealth of other issues.
  2. Architects & Planners have a lot to lose. It is easy to take for granted what has already been earned – architectural practice acts, qualifications based selection for design services, historic preservation, to name a few – but all of this work can be undone by a legislator who is unaware of the purpose of these important victories of the past.
  3. Citizens have a lot to gain and lose. The intelligent and positive contributions made by architects and planners, when heeded by legislators, politicians, and decision-makers, serves to benefit the lives of everyone in the community. If we (citizens) fail to recognize these contributions, we face the possibility of losing our heritage, our environment, and our future.

Go here to the SketchCrawl page >> or see more sketches on my Flickr Page >>

Link to 2011 Thinking Insomniac Calendars >>>

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thinking insomniac sharing knowledge

"Sorry...no time to share knowledge"

I write this post today due to my past and present experiences. I’ve been privileged to be in the company of ideators, and thinkers who share knowledge, who hold nothing back. Boy have I been lucky!

The first person who impressed this upon me was one of the best architects (my favorite Caribbean architect), Colin Laird. I would go to his office and read, make models, draw, etc. I would go to his office everyday and just DO, and learn. He would pay me (which I never asked for), but was still grateful for.

All I wanted from him was knowledge…boy did I admire him, and I still do. He is one of the greatest humans I have ever met. I have known Colin now for more than 13 years and he has been there for me, and continues to share his knowledge with me. That is greatness! That is his legacy, and I will always share and tell the world what a giving man Colin Laird is.

Another great sharer is Bob Massa, of whom I have spoken of previously. Bob is a fascinating man! He has an amazing sense for business, strategies, and runs an extremely successful SEO business. He is the Searchking! He shares his stories, experiences, and knowledge with me. He welcomed me to the world of online business, strategies, knowing your product and your market. Bob and I would sit and chat for hours at night into the next morning discussing ideas, and strategies. I look forward to those days again. His creative mind, his positive thinking, and great ideas are infectious. He is a teacher (although he will deny it).

Another sharer is Gijsbert Koren, an industrial designer. Gijs and I would stay up for hours researching, thinking and talking about ideas, looking at cool designs, just poring over the internet, books, we could go on forever! I mentioned him before here.

Alex Muspratt-Williams is my other sharer. He is a product designer with a wealth of experience. He has worked with IKEA, Motorola, and Ross Lovegrove on his famous organic bottle for Ty Nant Water to name a few. He now works at Tupperware. Alex, Gijs and I talked a lot about design, our experiences, and we had each others’ backs. We all encouraged each other. My constant idea exchanges with Alex and Gijs spurned my appreciation and love of product design. In fact, Gijs and I entered a competition together and we were one of the winning teams.

Devesh Dodeja is another creator, ideator, and sharer who inspired me. The long talks, the crazy ideas, massaging them, the late night pow wows with him and Bob, which went straight into breakfast at the Grand Bhagwati. Thanks for being that kind of person Devesh. Great times!

That’s how you get better, by surrounding yourself with those better, and smarter than you are. However, what do you do when you are in an environment where those better or “smarter” than yourself do not want to share their knowledge and information? I am trying to figure that out. That deep pool of creative people who loved to share changed me. It infected me. We are not all in the same geographic location anymore, so those late nights talking are no more. What does one do in an environment where those around them are not forth-coming with information? Where people hoard knowledge, and choose to not share? What does one do? Can anyone out there tell me? I really do not know what to do.

I will always share with others, especially those who will do the same and share. I stand on the shoulders of those giants who shared with me. I have had that privilege and sharing knowledge is a powerful thing. Colin, Bob, Gijsbert, Devesh and Alex (to name a few), keep up the great work. Don’t stop sharing, you all have taught me the value of teaching and just sharing ideas. I want to urge everyone, don’t be selfish with your ideas, because someday someone will think of it.

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