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  • National Academy for the Performing Arts – Trinidad & Tobago – part deux

    Posted on September 7th, 2009 Vernelle 9 comments

    National Academy for the Performing Arts - Trinidad & Tobago
    National Academy for the Performing Arts – Trinidad & Tobago

    The National Academy for the Performing Arts is currently under construction in the capital city of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. It will be the permanent home for the development of the Performing Arts, with particular focus on our national instrument, the steel pan, which was born in the 1940’s in Trinidad & Tobago. I applaud such a project in the Caribbean.

    There are many opinions about it. I am glad that this project is being executed in Trinidad and Tobago; one that honors the talent and cultural contributions of Trinidad & Tobago to the world. Architecturally, what do you think of it? Some say it’s “out of proportion, ugly, devouring, fantastic, looks like Sydney Opera House, great design.” What is your architectural critique of it?

    National Academy for the Performing Arts

    National Academy for the Performing Arts

    I think the scale of the Project deserves a larger site, one with the landscape and site planning to compliment its grandeur. Look at projects like the New Parliament Complex in Canberra, Australia by Mitchell/Giurgola and Thorp. The building actually occupies only 15% of the site. There is a grand promenade and procession to the complex.

    The Performing Arts Academy in Trinidad & Tobago is not able to have a dramatic procession with views and glimpses of it as you approach because of its site location. There is no procession…no approach, just an arrival. These factors are necessary in grand architecture I think. Driving around the Queens Park Savannah you see it, but again, that is not an approach, nor a procession. What if we built an island just for the National Academy for the Performing Arts? That is not impossible…costly, but not impossible. This was done in Sri Lanka for the Parliament building. A swampy site was dredged to create an island at the center of a vast artificial lake for the Parliament designed by Geoffrey Bawa. You notice the need for the scale of the site to match the scale and importance of the building.


    How dramatic would it be to have to drive or walk along a grand promenade to the National Academy. The procession to it and catching glimpses of it would itself be a show, a build up to what was inside. I think this project needed or missed out on the opportunity for drama and the procession to it also being an event. In summary, congratulations to Trinidad & Tobago for a much needed facility, it’s about time! Architecturally, there is always room for improvement.

    What do you think about the National Academy for the Performing Arts?

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    9 responses to “National Academy for the Performing Arts – Trinidad & Tobago – part deux” RSS icon

    • I think it is a wholesome design. I am not sure what the size of the site is, but a grand site and approach would surely accentuate such a lovely project. Great analysis!

    • The cultural center is a much needed space for the multi-cultural and diverse population of our twin island. I fear though that while the grandeur of the design is quite appealing (albeit a little too copy cat; Sydney Opera House), it lacks contextually with respect to the neighborhood and surrounding structures it seems totally out of place.
      I make this reference kindly with respect to all the new high rise buildings in the POS area e.g. the new Hyatt Regency Hotel which fits in with the other new buildings.
      I feel an opportunity was lost to really highlight the beauty of this building in another beautiful setting which there is no lack of in Trinidad.

    • I would love to have seen a photograph of the site to have a reference. Notwithstanding. The procession of the Parliament Complex in Canberra whilst dramatic in plan, is actually lost in person due to the immense scale of the site and the way the landscape climbs to conceal the lower stories of the complex.

      I would love to know more about the building in question, namely the architects especially if it were a local practice. Also the Queen’s Park Savannah is a very special location, historically added that when complete it will be the only permanent building on that site (less the hoards of drama come Carnival – now that’s a sight to see)

    • See here for previous post on the National Academy for the Performing Arts

    • I think this is wonderful news. I applauded them for the courage to take the step. And even though I’m not from Trinidad, I’m still proud to have it in the Caribbean.

      Yes it does look like the Sydney Opera House. They are very similar, the location at the water’s edge, the multiple curved shape and the use of them for the performing arts.

      @ Kay Hart
      The building being out of place and strange is not a bad thing, this makes it unique, this makes it iconic; a landmark.

    • the academy is shaping up nicely, the design is beautiful and there is definitely nothing else like it in trinidad at present. The scale is quite large for its present surroundings, but that is just it, the present surroundings. Maybe the surroundings will evolve to make the academy look less out of place.

    • Who’s the architect??

    • Shanghai Construction Group (Design/ Build)

    • I’m very impressed from what i saw this morning. The National Performing Arts Academy is beyond my expectations.. hats off to the Government. It is very.. beautiful architecturally. So cant wait for the gala opening.

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