19.1 WHY CONTEMPORARY CARIBBEAN ARCHITECTURE?

With the publishing of my book Contemporary Caribbean Architecture planned for 2015 it is useful to restate why I choose to take on this challenge and what it could mean for Caribbean architects and architecture. 

Question:               Why did you embark on a book on Contemporary Caribbean Architecture? 

Answer:                   There are always a number of reasons for making major investments of manpower and finances. For one the economy was sluggish in 2010 and I was getting a little bored. I really did not want to end my architectural career in a state of melancholy – that’s not my style. When I look back at my career I found that in general most people in the Caribbean did not really understand what architects do and have a very conservative view of design. I am not a social scientist but from my own personal observation over a lifetime I have come to my own conclusions that there could be two combined reasons for this. I believe in the Caribbean we suffer from a lack of self-confidence in some areas of knowledge – probably due to our history and education system that did not promote independent thinking and action. Secondly we have had a history that left behind a significant stock of colonial architecture that has come to be known as ‘Caribbean Architecture’. Conversely there are few examples of contemporary Caribbean buildings that could be seen as a comparative reference. One of the most effective ways to establish a contemporary Caribbean architectural reference is to produce a beautiful book of beautiful contemporary buildings designed by Caribbean architects. So that’s what I am doing. I am hoping that such a book could make a statement: a new reference point for the Caribbean – a new contemporary Caribbean architecture.

Question:               Why don’t you write a theoretical treatise instead of producing a coffee table book?

Answer:                   I think a theoretical treatise would be more interesting to architects but it would not be of interest and therefore not widely received by the general public. Images are a more effective way to communicate architecture. Besides I have been interested in architectural photography for most of my life so that I believe that I have unique strengths as an experienced architect to select suitable buildings and as an architectural photographer to record great examples of well-designed contemporary architecture. I actually want to produce a beautiful book of beautiful buildings. In this way beguiling buildings can perhaps become a new reference point for a new contemporary architecture – that is my objective in the long run. It will be my contribution to architecture unless someone comes along and asks me to do something outstanding and is will to pay the price!

Question:               So tell us a bit about what sort of book you are planning?

Answer:                   The book will comprise about 40-45 projects with over 500 high-resolution images. My preference is for a large hard cover book, about 27.5 x 34 cm x 250-275 pages with large high-resolution images. The aim is to complete the images before the end of 2014 and then begin on the graphic layouts, printing and publishing in 2015. Our architectural firm, acla:works, will be celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2015 and it would be great tribute to print and launch the book to mark this unique milestone.