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  • Interview with Trinidadian artist Peter Sheppard

    Posted on May 22nd, 2010 Architecture Caribbean No comments
    Project by Peter sheppard

    Project by Peter sheppard

    Peter Sheppard is a Trinidadian artist who was born into a creative family as both his parents painted and were involved in the Carnival Arts. His father Stephen Sheppard, painted landscapes in acrylics from scenes that inspired him after long drives in and around the countryside. His mother Margaret Sheppard (Highgate), also painted. She made costumes for the theatre, carnival, weddings and personal wardrobes. They exposed him to a wide range of visual and performing arts. He studied at the International Fine Arts College in Miami, Florida. He says that his “canvas is all things Trinidad & Tobago and I live my life enjoying all that our wonderful nation has to offer. Its rich and diverse Culture, its delicious food representing our many ethnic segments of our population. Our many festivals, quaint villages, peaceful rivers, majestic mountains and people full of a life-time of stories will forever provide inspiration for my paintings. I paint from my memories and experiences and enjoy sharing this with the public through my paintings.” He was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule for an interview with Architecture Caribbean.

    Read entire interview here >>>

  • CHOGM 2009 – Sustainability & Climate Change in the Commonwealth

    Posted on November 27th, 2009 Vernelle No comments

    CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) is held every two (2) years and brings together Commonwealth leaders to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree upon collective policies and initiatives. CHOGM 2009 is being hosted in the city of Port of Spain in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on November 27-29, 2009.

    This year the main theme is that of Sustainability and climate change. Click to view the Handbook on Climate Change or download here

    Click here for a document on Climate change and the Commonwealth.

    Click here for the live video stream of the opening Ceremony and Cultural Programme at the National Academy for the Performing Arts today (Friday), starting at 1:50pm.

    Previous post on National Academy for the Performing Arts in Trinidad & Tobago.

    I am looking forward to the outcomes of this year’s meetings.

  • 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?

    To contribute your Flickr images:

    Join and add photos to the architecture caribbean pool, and/or

    Tag your photos architecture caribbean

  • Renzo Piano\’s Cultural Center in Greece: The genius and The genius loci

    Posted on August 4th, 2009 Architempo 1 comment

    Renzo Piano (RPBW) has been chosen as the architect for a new cultural center in Athens, Greece, which will house a National Library and Opera House. The Stavros Niarchos Foundational Cultural Center (SNFCC) will fund the $580 million building, expected to open in 2015. The SNFCC will honor Greek culture by enabling both Greek and global visitors to experience art, education, and green space. The site is approximately 187,800 square meters.

    Site Model

    Site Model

    “We were extremely honoured by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s invitation to play a role in such a generous gift to Greece,” noted Renzo Piano. “The Cultural Center’s proximity to water, and the natural warm breezes and light of Athens were particularly inspiring during the design process. It was immediately clear that we must take advantage of all these elements to ultimately design a zero emissions building that expresses movement and energy.”

    Site Section

    Site Section



    It was the SNFCC and RPBW’s mission to create an emissions neutral facility, with the highest standards of environmental sustainability. Again, the roof is the key element in the environmental control system – a series of interconnected photovoltaic cell panels which will cover the structure’s needs, taking advantage of the pure “green” solar and wind energy.

    I have always appreciated the work of Renzo Piano having studied his work and visited some of his projects including Potzdamer Platz. He is a master of finding that balance between history and invention as well as strengthening the sense of place. Piano starts his projects from sociology, and anthropology, not architecture. Not from the form, but from the life…creating places for people.

    Building Section

    Building Section

    His sensitivity reminds me of many Caribbean Architects, including Colin Laird (Trinidad & Tobago) who lets the genius loci (spirit of place) of a site inform his architecture. Laird often mentions the palimpsest; defined as a manuscript, usually written on papyrus or parchment, on which more than one text has been written with the earlier writing incompletely erased and still visible. Architecturally speaking this means seeing the previous life and history of a site, especially as there is always one.

    I congratulate Piano for another winning design, and congratulate numerous Caribbean Architects who design with similar sensitivity and mastery of the genius loci and the environment. Stay tuned for my post on the National Library of Trinidad & Tobago.

    See photos of Piano’s Potzdamer Platz Project in Berlin (see Flickr album).

    To contribute your Flickr images:


    Baird, George. The Architectural Expression of Environmental Control Systems. London: Spon Press, 2001.

    Webb, Michael. “Required Reading: With Extensive New Accommodation, above and below Ground, Renzo Piano Brings Unity and Order to the Morgan Library.” The Architectural Review June 2006

    Grenier, Cynthia. “Architecture Renaissance Man: An Interview with Renzo Piano.” World and I Oct. 1998

  • Interview with Courtenay B. Williams, President of The Art Society of Trinidad & Tobago

    Posted on August 2nd, 2009 Architecture Caribbean No comments
    “Tic Tac Toe” by Peter Sheppard

    “Tic Tac Toe” by Peter Sheppard

    Architecture Caribbean
    presents its interview with Courtenay B. Williams, President of The Art Society of Trinidad & Tobago to discuss the Wall Projects recently unveiled at the Queens Park Oval and the Hyatt Waterfront Art Gallery in Port of Spain. This is a portion of the interview, see below for the entire interview.

    Architecture Caribbean: can you tell us about the Wall Project?
    Courtenay Williams: The Wall Project was the result of collaboration between the Label House Group who assembled the technology to print large scale reproductions and to use software to obtain as true a color reproduction as is possible of the original pigments used in the paintings.

    AC: How did the idea come about?
    CW: We were approached by the Label House Group to help in the selection of artists and execution of the project.

    AC: How were artists chosen for the project?
    CW: Initially the launch date for the project was so close to when we were first approached, that we had to have resort to Art Society members for selections to be made for the first phase along Tragarete Road. The intention was that every six months or so, the work would be retired but whilst up, a theme would be announced and artists would paint for that theme so that when the first set of work came down there would be new work ready for installation drawn from artists who responded to the theme (whether they were Art Society members or not). It was the intention that works would be juried by the Art Society using the kind of criteria we use for our own shows.

    AC: What benefits have arisen from the Wall Project?
    CW: People have become alive to the possibility of embracing art and what it says about them as human beings when they respond to it. It is not for the middle classes, it is our expression of the human condition which touches us all.

    AC: What is the present state would you say of art and artists in Trinidad & Tobago and the Caribbean?
    CW: That is a very very broad question which it is impossible to answer within the confines of this short interview process. I will say this: the Caribbean has a unique story to tell and even within the Caribbean, the Cuban experience is different to the Jamaican experience which is different to the Trinidad and Tobago experience which is different to the Surinamese experience and so on. I lament in Trinidad and Tobago that the general perception is still that children are not being encouraged to pursue careers in art because it is still perceived that artists cannot make a decent living from it.

    AC: Is there a particular space in the city or country that you would love to do a grand exhibition for artists if you had the opportunity?
    CW: A biennale or a true art festival is a dream of ours.

    AC: What concerns do you have with regard to the Arts in the Caribbean/ T&T?
    CW: Art is still perceived in some countries as not available to the general public, and that it is elitist.

    AC: What advice would you give to young artists?
    CW: Stay the course and improve your craft and technique and if it is your intent to do so, source good help and formal education and use it as best you can.

    AC: What do you think about Architecture Caribbean and its goal to highlight Architecture and the Arts in the Caribbean and other parts of the world?
    CW: I support it.

    Read entire interview>>

  • Interview with Trinidadian Architect – Rudylynn DeFour Roberts (Pt. 1)

    Posted on July 30th, 2009 Architecture Caribbean No comments
    Rudylynn DeFour Roberts

    Rudylynn DeFour Roberts

    Rudylynn De Four Roberts, TTIA, is a Trinidadian Architect with a love for old buildings and Historic Restoration. She is a director of De Four Farmer & Associates Ltd. and was a visiting lecturer at several Institutes including the Caribbean School of Architecture. As the former head of the Trinidad and Tobago Government Historic Restoration Unit she was responsible for monitoring government restoration projects, and advising government regarding preservation issues. She was kind enough to take some time to do an interview with Architecture Caribbean, and we have placed parts of the interview here for you.

    Architecture Caribbean: Who is Rudylynn De Four?
    Rudylynn De Four Roberts: I am a Caribbean woman, an architect with a love for Old buildings.

    AC: Where were you born?
    RDR: I was born in New York USA while my Father was at University doing his second degree. Both my parents are from Trinidad & Tobago. We returned to Trinidad when I was six years old.

    AC: Where did you study?
    RDR: I studied at Howard University. Washington DC. USA

    AC: What inspired you to study/practice architecture?
    I come from a family of Engineers and Architects. My father was a Civil and an Electrical Engineer. He established the first locally owned engineering consultancy practice in Trinidad & Tobago. I myself was an artist and my Dad encouraged me to study Architecture like his brother and cousin.

    AC: Have any other professions or types of work interested you?
    RDR: I enjoy lecturing, and speaking to students about historic Architectural Patrimony. I suppose I could always go back to Art.

    AC: How long have you been in the field?
    RDR: I graduated from Howard University in 1974.

    AC: What was your first architecture job, doing what?
    RDR: My first job was in Alexandria Virginia. I did the usual as a new graduate, working drawings for design architects, I also did site planning and landscaping drawings. My first architectural design job was the Restoration of a 200 year old Lutheran Church. It was an adaptive re-use. We converted it into a community theatre. I was responsible for doing the design, the drawings, and the specs….everything.

    AC: What did you learn during that experience?
    RDR: I realized that I loved restoration, and I began what was to become my life’s vocation. My appreciation of historic architecture came from my love of History and seeing my Grandfather’s buildings. He was a builder and joiner. In his early days he built houses with Fretwork and stained glass. I loved to watch the sun pouring through the fretwork creating patterns on the floor and walls; and the coloured glass always fascinated me. When I was a child, Port of Spain looked like a miniature New Orleans.

    AC: What about architecture excites you?
    RDR: Creating spaces that conform firstly to the user’s needs ….and using shape, colour, art and craftsmanship to make the spaces comfortable, pleasing and efficient.

    AC: Who (or what) were the biggest inspirations for your career?
    RDR: The biggest inspirations in my career are my father and the late Trinidadian architect, Anthony C. Lewis. My father Fenrick De Four, for his support, encouragement and example. He felt strongly about ethics in the workplace, serving and contributing to nation building, and supporting local enterprise. Anthony Lewis was an architect, planner and artist, who established the first local architectural consultancy in Trinidad and Tobago. His firm is responsible for many of the landmark buildings in Port of Spain.

    AC: Who are your favorite architects (International and Caribbean) and what do you admire about their work?
    RDR: Internationally – Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, interior designer, writer and educator. I admire his ability to use Nature as inspiration in his organic designs. In 1991 the AIA declared Wright “The greatest American Architect of all time.” Locally- Anthony C. Lewis who was an architect whose concepts expressed an organic and environmentally friendly architecture. He used sunlight, flora and fauna as inspiration in his designs. As an architect he was always conscious of creating a living space for optimum human comfort and visual stimulation. This was reflected in his use of the natural elements and indigenous materials.

    AC: What do you think about (Architecture Caribbean) and its goal to highlight Architecture and the Arts in the Caribbean and other parts of the world?
    RDR: An admirable project, with lots of scope. Although we are all from the Caribbean islands, there is so much diversity in culture and architecture. From earthquake prone Trinidad to islands in the hurricane belt…………Our colonial heritage is varied and each old world intervention has left its indelible mark. Cuba – Spanish heritage; Barbados- British heritage; Curacao- Dutch; Martinique and Guadeloupe –French and Trinidad and Tobago a pleasant mix up of French, English, African and East Indian Heritage resulting in our eclectic architecture.

    Read the entire interview>>>