A R C H I T E C T U R E C ATA LO G U E Simplicity Catalogue
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OLD COLONIAL TIMES
COLLECTION OF OLD HOMES
12 COLLECTION OF FAÃ‡ADE 14 THEATRE OF PORT-LOUIS
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18 OUR HERITAGE
21 THE JUMMAH MOSQUE 22 THE PORT-LOUIS CATHEDRALE 25 THE CENTRAL POST OFFICE 28 AIR MAURITIUS BUILDING 33 DARKNESS IN THE CITY 37 THE UNSEEN BEAUTY Simplicity Catalogue
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THE HISTORY Much of the Mauritian building style was imported from the early French settlers, who over time became skilled at adapting their designs to suit the tropical, humid climate. Large, handsome plantation houses evolved to incorporate elements that may look merely decorative but existed to keep residents cool and dry, like vaulted ceilings and shaded wrap-around verandahs. Colonial-era architecture in places like Port Louis and Curepipe, also focused on the ornate, with intricate wrought iron balconies adorning stately town houses and government buildings evoking a feel akin to New Orleans. Many more humble single storey ‘Case Creole’ workers’ dwellings have been swallowed up by larger apartment complexes, although those that remain are often well-preserved, painted in vibrant hues with roofs covered in laquered, corrugated metal sheets and small courtyards overflowing with exotic plants and blooms. Modern Mauritian architecture is mainly articulated via large-scale entities aimed at tourists like hotels, villas and spas, or in major civic projects such as new waterfronts and marinas. And beyond these, there are pockets of brilliance such as the Beachcomber headquarters in Curepipe. These days, green considerations are also of utmost importance, with water-based landscaping and natural, locally-sourced materials taking precedence. Architects are also keen to ensure that buildings are harmoniously anchored in their natural setting – amply demonstrated by new hotels like Zilwa Attitude –which takes great inspiration from traditional Creole homes – and Long Beach, which though much more sleek and contemporary in style, still evokes the vibe of a relaxing, tropical beach house in its overall use of light and glass, natural wood finishes and neutral colours. Overall, the architecture of Mauritius is less about a defined look than it is about adapting well to the climate and natural environment. Ventilation, shading from the sun, natural light, cooling, planting and protecting interior spaces from the intense midday heat are all elements of the tropical ‘style’ but this can be interpreted and expressed in many different ways. One only has to look at the wide variety of designs – from the traditional pavilions of Le Prince Maurice. Simplicity Catalogue
THE OLD COLONIAL TIMES It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it is the construction of the foundation that will stand the rest of time. The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilisation.
Since the Colonial times, the way houses were built was completely different from nowadays. At that time, houses were constructed mainly with rocks as the base and wood and some metal as the main structure. The architects of the time somehow managed to impress with the designs and symmetry achieved. With time, evolution brought concrete which of course was much safer, less costly and more durable though less ‘aesthetic’ if it can be said so, and little by little these colonial or creole houses of the French and British colonisation began to disappear, replaced by new. Below is a collection of those remaining old houses which can still be admired today (or probably not, as by the time this gallery is published, some of which must certainly have been pulled down as well). To avoid any misunderstanding, by creole houses, it is meant ‘maison creole’. Decades of political, social, and economic change have resulted in the routine destruction of Mauritian architectural heritage. Between 1960 and 1980, the historic homes of the island’s high grounds, known locally as campagnes, disappeared at alarming rates. More recent years have witnessed the demolition of plantations, residences, and civic buildings as they have been cleared or drastically renovated for new developments to serve an expanding tourism industry. The capital city of Port Louis remained relatively unchanged until the mid-1990s, yet now reflects the irreversible damage that has been inflicted on its built heritage. Rising land values are pitted against the cultural value of historic structures in Mauritius, while the prohibitive costs of maintenance and the steady decline in traditional building skills make it harder to invest in preservation.
Old Wooden house at Etienne Pellereau Street
Old Creole-style House at Mere Barthelemy Street
Residence of Soobratty family – Ingenieur Road, Port-Louis
Villa of Toorawa’s Family Emmanuel Anquetil street
Old House in Plaine Verte which could be 100 years old Rue Ails-Dores
Old Creole Style House - Nyon Street Port-Louis
Old House Residence of Appavoo family on St Georges Street
Colonial House at the Entrance of Champ de Mars
Residence of Benier’s family on St Georges Street
Residence of Gourdin’s family Raoul Rivet & 40 Rue D`entrecasteaux
Residence of Teycheney’s family Raoul Rivet & D’Entrecasteaux Street
Old House at Tank Wan Street
â€œThe essence of architecture is form and space, and light is the essential element to the key to architectural design, probably more important than anything. Technology and materials are secondary.â€? â€“ I. M. Pei
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THE MUNICIPAL THEATRE OF PORT-LOUIS Inaugurated in 1822 by the first British governor of Mauritius, Sir Robert Farquhar, ten years after the British conquest, the Theatre of Port Louis was one of the first theatres to be built in the Southern Hemisphere, and was to host theatrical troupes and lyrical throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Mauritian and international artists regularly frequented this theatre for a long winter season of plays and operas, playing in works such as La Bohême, La Barbière de Sevilla, La Troubadour, Rigoletto and Aïda. Night trains were even made available to opera lovers to allow them to return home after performances, The Port Louis Municipal Theatre is one of the oldest theatres and playhouses of the southern hemisphere. Talking about the history behind, Joseph Laglaine, health officer on board a french warship, was the first who thought of bringing a troupe to perform in Mauritius, at that time, Isle de France. The troupe landed in Port Louis on the 20th of April 1790 but unfortunately due to the smallpox epidemy of 1792 the troupe was disbanded. The Théâtre de Port Louis was the only center of opera in Mauritius until the construction in 1933 of the Theatre Plaza Rose Hill. It has been closed since 2008 pending urgent renovations. The appealing Municipal Theatre has changed little since it was built in 1822, making it the oldest theatre in the Indian Ocean region. Decorated in the style of the classic London theatres, it seats about 600 over three levels and has an exquisitely painted dome ceiling with cherubs and chandeliers. Performances are in the evenings – usually at 8pm.
“Theatre publicly reveals the human condition through appealing to both intellect and emotion. Architecture, whether lowly or exalted, can do the same.” – Hugh Hardy
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“Architecture has always been a very idealistic profession. It’s about making the world a better place, and its works over the generations because people go on vacation and they look for it.” – Frank Gehry
OUR HERITAGE Every manâ€™s work whether it be literature, or music, or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. The distinctive architecture of Mauritius reflects the island nationâ€™s history as a colonial trade base connecting Europe with the East. Styles and forms introduced by Dutch, French, and British settlers from the seventeenth century onward, mixed with influences from India and East Africa, resulted in a unique hybrid architecture of international historic, social, and artistic significance. Mauritian structures present a variety of designs, materials, and decorative elements that are unique to the country and inform the historical context of the Indian Ocean and European colonialism. The 2016 World Monuments Watch calls for increased local and international attention to the widespread and sustained destruction of the architectural heritage of Mauritius. In the face of rapid and unregulated development, the built structures and cultural identity of the island continue to suffer. The Watch encourages the engagement of site owners and other local stakeholders as well as the mobilization of political and financial forces to promote heritage preservation as a means, rather than a hindrance, to sustainable economic development. Throughout the city, one can see how the colonial style of architecture has influenced traditional Mauritian houses, which are basically wooden, with shuttered windows and typically large verandahs or porches. While unfortunately today, most buildings are constructed from concrete and detract from much of this architecture, visitors can still see the vestiges of the original colonial architecture in this old part of town.
THE JUMMAH MOSQUE The mosque was the neighbourhood of house of worship, but is also a spiritual homeland in Mauritius. Simplicity Catalogue
The Jummah Masjid is a mosque in Port Louis dating from the 1850s, with substantial additions built through the 1890s. It is located on the Royal Road, and is described by the Ministry of Tourism’s guide as one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the country. Throughout the year, the Jummah Masjid is visited by Islamic personalities, scholars, naatkhwan, etc. One of the visits which the Masjid receives is that of Maulana Shah Abdul Aleem Siddiqui Madani and his son Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani Siddiqui every year, during the month of Rabi’ al-awwal. Muhammad Owais Raza Qadri, the naatkhwan from Pakistan has also made various Naat Programs in the Masjid. Maulana Syed Ahmad Ashraf Jilani, Maulana Syed Kaleem Ashraf Jilani, Maulana Syed Aleem Ashraf Jilani have also visited. The Jummah Masjid houses the Mazar Shareef of Syed Peer Jamal Shah (a waliullah from Cutch Naliya,India) in the backyard of the mosque. This is a dargah where people come & pray.
The Jummah Masjid is known for live broadcasts of Jummah Prayers every Friday, taraweeh prayers during the month of Ramadan, Eid Prayers, and spiritual programs like Majilis for the first 10 days of Muharram, the first 12 days of Rabi ul Awwal, Mehfil e Ashurah & various ‘Urs Shareef held throughout the year. The Jummah Mosque, the most important mosque in Mauritius, was built in the 1850s and is a striking blend of Indian, Creole and Islamic architecture – it would look equally at home in Istanbul, Delhi or New Orleans! Visitors are welcome in the peaceful inner courtyard, except on Friday and during the month of Ramadan. The expansion works began in 1878 and were overseen by Jackaria Jan Mahomed. Artisans, led by Ishaq Mistry, and building materials were shipped from India, but disease among the workers and shortage of construction supplies delayed the completion until 1895. The enlarged mosque occupied an entire block, save for a small plot of land, which was leased to businesses.
SAINT-LOUIS CATHEDRAL The Saint-Louis Cathedral is the place of pilgrimage during the feast of August 25 commemorating the head of the diocese and the capital of Mauritius. It was also the first parish of the island in 1722, shortly after the landing of the French in Mauritius. The current location was at the time previously reserved by Governor Mahé de Labourdonnais for the construction of a place of worship. Nevertheless, a church proper was not built until 1752, the construction completed in 1756. The church was repeatedly renovated but eventually demolished due to faulty foundations. The current building is recent and was inaugurated during the episcopate of Bishop James Leen in 1933. It is also the burial place of Catholic bishops, including the Mauritian cardinal, Jean Margéot. The SaintLouis Cathedral is located near the Champ-de-Mars in Port-Louis. Although the parish Saint-Louis existed since 1722, the church was born in 1752. Named thus in honor of Saint Louis - Louis IX king of France (1226-1270), canonized in 1297, also in the honor of Louis XV (1715-1774) who reigned at the time.
The building elevated to the rank of cathedral in 1847 was in fact that of 1814, erected under the British; It was Governor Robert T. Farquhar who, trying to ease tensions on the island by demonstrating his respect for French customs and customs, had St. Louis established as a holiday and replaced the old church lying in ruins. The interior of the building includes several paintings, statues, commemorative plaques and other relics testifying to the evolution of the sanctuary and the church on the island. Among other things, you will find here the Carrara marble altar which commemorates in its own way the ministry of Father Laval, who exercised at the cathedral until his death in 1864.
“Church architecture describes visually the idea of the sacred, which is a fundamental need of man.” – Mario Botta
The main port, which was then called Port-Nord-Ouest, was in turn designated as capital in 1735, since then called Port-Louis. St. Louis parish actually began elsewhere, simply around a hut made of palisade leafy palms. It was not until 1737 that a masonry building with a shingle roof was designated for worship, the chapel being then located at Royale Street - at the present location of the Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd where the there is still a commemorative plaque today. It was not until 1756 that a church was erected on the present site of the cathedral, a place designated by Mahé de Labourdonnais in 1738. 22
He gave it a harmonium from Europe and various other facilities. Nevertheless, the century-old building had to be demolished in 1928 because it was a serious danger because of its damaged and unstable structure.
Although larger than the previous churches, the architecture of the current Cathedral remains similar to those of 1778 and 1814. The site includes several works and monuments: the statue of Saint Louis, that of St Pierre Claver, the marble bust of Father Laval, the huge picture of the Crucifixion, that of the Ascension of St. Louis, the crypt of bishops, the descriptive plaque of Bishop Leen’s episcopate and many other relics. As for the altar in Carrara marble, from Italy, he was previously in the choir of the Holy Cross Church and it was under him that rested Father Laval from 1868 to 1870. The Cathedral was the site of ‘a complete renovation in 2007, part of the esplanade converted, in 2009, into green space.
THE MAURITIUS POST OFFICE The post office doesn’t guarantee delivery, but it tries really hard. It’s called best efforts communication. If you put two postcards in the post-box, they don’t necessarily come out then in the same order that you put them in. So, that means that there’s potentially disorder with your delivery, and that’s also true in the Internet. The very first postal service in Mauritius dates back to 1772, when the island was under French rule. At that time slaves were used to deliver letters to their respective recipients. There were no physical building to serve that purpose but just the service of delivering letters to other recipients. However, it fell into disuse and was revived by the British in 1834, and began to function in January 1835; inland letters were delivered three times a week. The Central Post Office (former building, not the new one) was then located on ‘La Chaussée‘ and operated as from July 1836. The island’s first postage stamps were issued in 1847.
The General Post Office was constructed between 1865 and 1870 and was inaugurated in December 1870 and certainly not in 1868 as written on the building. The erection of this national heritage started in January 1865 under the supervision of Surveyor General Morrison. Around two years later, in January 1867, shortly after his arrival in Mauritius, Nicholas Pike, an American Consul and visitor, observed: “There is a new post office in the course of erection near the Customs House. It is to be hoped that the new light and airy place will give a proportionate impetus to the activity of the clerks on mail day.”
Located in the Capital City of Port Louis, the new Central Post Office (also known as the General Post Office) dates back since the early Colonial period. The building was erected in 1868, but was inaugurated in December 1870 by Governor Gordon. This imposing historic structure has served as the main post office of Mauritius and for more than a century, as the office of the Postmaster-General. The building now acts as a Postal Museum showing the history of the Postal Services in Mauritius ranging from old stamps to even some history of the Mauritius Government Railways as previously the Postal Services were effected through railway stations acting also as Post Offices in a certain way.
By December 1868, more than seventy-five percent of the building was completed. Between 1869 and December 1870, the roof, the exterior walls and the front part of the edifice were finished. The General Post Office of Mauritius was built at a cost of between 10,000 and 11,000 pounds sterling. It should be noted that over a period of six years, the Surveyor General’s Office used more than 80 workers for the construction of this particular structure. The overwhelming majority of these workers were Indian and non-Indian vagrants who were incarcerated at the Vagrant Depot of Grand River North West and prisoners from the Port Louis Prisons.
â€œIt is the harmony of the diverse parts, their symmetry, their happy balance; in a word it is all that introduces order, all that gives unity, that permits us to see clearly and to comprehend at once both the ensemble and the details. â€“ Henri Poincare
AIR MAURITIUS BUILDING Air Mauritius has been a bridge to the world for Mauritius since the country gained independence in 1968. By early 2000 Air Mauritius employed 2,000 employees and had a ten-strong fleet made up of Boeing, Airbus and ATR aircraft, flying both passengers and 30,000+ annual tons of cargo around the globe. We ordered an A340-300 Enhanced in mid-2005, and received the last one ever built, putting it to work on our London Heathrow route shortly after delivery in December 2006. A year later, we took delivery of the wide-body twin-engined A330, followed by a second aircraft of the same type in October 2009, taking our current fleet to 12. We also remain one of the few airlines in the world to offer a helicopter service, with two Bell Jet Rangers used for tour services.
A PARTNER IN THE MAURITIAN ECONOMY More than just an airline, Air Mauritius acts as an ambassador for Mauritius. We bring you the spirit of this country and its people on each of your flights with the special attention that our Mauritian crew provides, as well as a range of quality services. Air Mauritius has received several international awards recognizing the quality of its service on the ground and in flight, including several distinctions at the prestigious World Travel Awards for Leading Airline. Created in 1967, Air Mauritius helped in connecting Mauritius to the rest of the world by regularly opening new routes. With flights to and from Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa, our company now serves 24 regional and international destinations. We are a strategic partner in the tourism industry and are investing to help achieve the industryâ€™s growth objectives. With 36,000 tons of cargo carried annually, Air Mauritius also plays a key role in the economic development of Mauritius. What started as an ambitious journey for a small airline on a small island in the Indian Ocean is now an established, competitive and respected international brand. Our customers have always been our main priority and that dedicated service is still there 50 years later.
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“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs
DARKNESS DOES NOT STOP THE CITY LIFE Light is the most important factor in the appreciation and understanding of Architecture. The relationship between light and architecture is grounded in the principles of physics; it is about energy and matter but in this particular case it also implies an emotional effect on people. The quality of lighting in a space defines its character and creates impressions. The human eye perceives its form through the incidence and reflection of light and in that way acquires information about the ambiance in a given place. Visual impressions are interpreted in our brains and put in context to create emotions that move us to take particular actions. Lighting in a living room will be warm and dimmed, there will be no brilliant points and instead the distribution of light reveals textures, color and balances the dark and clear areas. This atmosphere, when read by our visual system, creates a comfortable impression that helps us to relax and enjoy the moment. In opposition, lighting in a working place, for example a laboratory, will be cool in appearance, brilliant and focused on the specific places of work. All the room will be evenly lit, it will be perceived as wide and clean; this impression creates a dynamic mood in which different tasks are developed with more energy â€“ mental and physical. In public spaces, light provides a safe environment where people can meet and have a great diversity of activities. Historic districts, squares, parks, pedestrian streets are all appreciated and become useful thanks to good lighting.
“Buildings in modern cities have lost their metaphoric aspect. Much contemporary architecture is very fragmented and busy on the outside. It’s like a skin or a skull, but you don’t know what’s inside.” – Jane Jacobs
THE BEAUTY IS RIGHT UNDER OUR EYES For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home. The city’s full of people who you just see around.
In the whole island of Mauritius there are hundreds of building and monuments that are listed as National Monuments of Mauritius, since there is a rich and diverse colonial history in this town. In Port-Louis, which was founded by Mahe de Labourdonais in 1735, the Place D’Armes is the main center of the town, with harbor and surrounding buildings. In this area, there are several French colonial buildings that date back to the 18 th century, such as the Government House. The area also have two cathedrals, one that is Protestant and one that is Catholic. Throughout the city, one can see how the colonial style of architecture has influenced traditional Mauritian houses, which are basically wooden, with shuttered windows and typically large verandahs or porches. While unfortunately today, most buildings are constructed from concrete and detract from much of this architecture, visitors can still see the vestiges of the original colonial architecture in this old part of town. The 2016 World Monuments Watch calls for increased local and international attention to the widespread and sustained destruction of the architectural heritage of Mauritius. In the face of rapid and unregulated development, the built structures and cultural identity of the island continue to suffer. The Watch encourages the engagement of site owners and other local stakeholders as well as the mobilization of political and financial forces to promote heritage preservation as a means, rather than a hindrance, to sustainable economic development. The Remains of Old Port Louis have till today been a subject of fascination to many, especially photographers, who find a way or another to reveal the extra-ordinary out of the ordinary. Old Churches, Colonial Houses, Maisons Creoles, Old Chinese Shops, Ruins of Britishoccupation… From a different point of view, Port Louis viewed from an artistic angle.
THE MAURITIUS COMMERCIAL BANK Incorporated in 1838, MCB Limited is the leading bank in Mauritius while being an increasingly prominent player in the region. Backed by modern and adapted channel capabilities, high quality service, an innovative culture and a sound business model, MCB Limited has, throughout its history, been true to its guiding principle of assisting in the advancement of individuals, corporates and the country at large, in the process playing a key role in the development of the Mauritian economy. Leveraging its extensive network of correspondent banks, MCB Limited has diversified its activities beyond local shores notably through participation in major cross-border deals and transactions and the promotion of its â€˜Bank of Banksâ€™ initiative. The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd was established in 1838 and as such is the longest standing bank of Mauritius. It is listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius since 1989. Present mainly in the commercial banking sector, the bank is diversifying in the non-bank financial services which include leasing, factoring, asset management, private equity, stockbroking, registry and investor services business. The bank has 11 subsidiaries and 2 associated companies and also operates 42 branches and 10 exchange offices across Mauritius and Rodrigues. It has operations in France, Madagascar, Mayotte, Mozambique, RĂŠunion Island and Seychelles. Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) won the Best Private Bank in Mauritius 2017 award from Professional Wealth Management (PWM) and The Banker, two Financial Times publications . For the third time and for the second year in a row, MCB Private Banking has won this coveted award.
“The life of our city is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects. We are enveloped and steeped as though in an atmosphere of the marvelous; but we do not notice it” – Charles Baudelaire
MADE WITH LOVE