This booklet seeks to express the observations, experiences and analyses of Port of Spain by the AS3 Class of the Caribbean School of Architecture who visited the city between January 23 and February 6, 2014. AS3’s given study area in Port of Spain is bound by Queen’s Park Boulevard Sotuh (to the North) and the Brian Lara Promenade (To the south). The Study Area is divided into three sections, starting from the northern most section; between Queen’s Park Boulevard South and New Street, between New Street and Duke Street, and between Duke Street and Independence Square South. For the two weeks our task was to document via sketching, photographing, observing and interviewing, the given study area, and formulate individual opinions of the city. At the end of the two weeks, we presented our findings to alumni, professionals in the construction industry, and other interested parties.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AS3 avoided rel bacchanal on study tour thanks to following people: • • • • • • •
Franz-Joseph Repole, lecturer Julie Sullivan-Jones, lecturer Mark Raymond, Architect Stephen Spence, alumni Homer, alumni Jamieson, architect Sian Davies, junior architect
We had rel Bake, Eggs and Sausage Tabanca thanks to: •
Alicia’s Palace Hotel
Everyday we had • Vanburn, driver
“ONE, BIG, BAD, STINK, truck on de road” thanks to:
Bacchanal – party atmosphere; arguments, confusion e.g. “if dey find out, it will be rel bacchanal.” Tabanca – The feeling of hurt and pain when a close relationship ends.v
The island of Trinidad and Tobago sits at the southernmost part of the Eastern Caribbean Archipelago and is known as the home to the greatest show on earth, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. The twin island of Trinidad and Tobago enjoys a tropical wet and dry climate, which is characterized by high year-round temperature â€“ with an average high of 31.9 degrees Celsius and an average low of 22 degrees Celsius with its rainiest months between June and November. Trinidad is actually closer to Venezuela than it is to its sister island, Tobago, and inherited its name from its Spanish settlers in 1797. Port of Spain is located on the northwestern side of the island of Trinidad.
Port of Spain is mostly a retail and commercial city; with a residential population of 36,965 people and the population density is 3080 people per sq.m. according to 2011 census data. Measuring 10.4 sq.km, Port of Spain sits on relatively flat land bordered by the Northern Range of Mountains, The Gulf of Paria (south-southwesterly) and the Caroni Swamp (south-southeasternly).
The cityâ€™s most popular major annual event is Carnival, which is a two-day celebration of culture, held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Participating in Carnival, or â€œplaying masâ€?, consists of international and regional masqueraders (people) displaying the history, heritage and vibrancies of the nation in a Carnival Band. These bands have friendly competition where masqueraders display their eclectic costumes and colours, which tell a story of the past or a particular era. The people revel in the streets where they march (chip) through a particular path, where there are numerous judging points until they reach the final judging point at the Queens Park Savannah stage giving their last memorable impression of their carnival band until the following year.
THE EXPERIENCE Let’s go on a journey To a place across the sea Filled with exotic people And many things to see Take out your books Take out your pads The place I speak of The land…of Trinidad. Hidden in mangroves And cotton trees Is a city with much exciting history. Eighty houses a church And a weak barbette The Spaniards thought They must have it. ...
They attacked, and took it for their own An evil plot they must have sown. The French then invaded The Spanish they evaded The east they conquered The west they debated. In the 1808 fire… they all faded. King Street Queen Street even Prince Street too Roads of the grid the British pushed through Catholic or Anglicans which will rule Arose Immaculate Conception and catholic schools But Henry MacLeod, filled the air with flue A burning building and red rubble on the ground Port of Spain is now Anglican bound. Twin towers light house…. the cathedral stand At centre where promenade began Glorify Captain Arthur Champion of the barefoot man With Woodford Park further inland Eric Williams said his social views at hand With Marion Anderson and Winifred Atwell Doesn’t he play piano quite grand? Spirited politic debates Relaxing moments under a birch tree Woodford, a pedestrian link to public buildings Can you hear it…I can hear it It is saying I am free
The Queen‘s Park the Savannah, The name, it doesn’t really matter. From Sugar estate to cow pasture Now mostly for fun adventure Field hockey polo and even kite flying Here during carnival it’s the vibes that we finding Hardly we go through, always around Whether driving or walking Reverence is found. Around gather magnificent seven Cause even they know it’s true, The Savanah at centre It is really an important view. From here, Port of Spain unfold Uptown to downtown where the ships unload Places we ventured much more than six-folds. In this booklet we shall tell you, A walk-through we shall give you Ja to Trini even back again Our trip you may wish excitement that could happen
- Samantha Easy
Port of Spain layout by: Kashka King The city is laid out in geometric patterns with parks and squares; on the hills behind Port of Spain are residential suburbs. At the centre of the city is the business district, near the Gothic-style Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Queen’s Park Savannah—the city’s largest open space and a popular site for recreation. From that area radiate many of the most important streets, and around it are several buildings of historical and architectural interest, including the President’s House, which stands in the grounds of the Botanical Gardens; Whitehall, which houses the office of the prime minister; the house of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port of Spain; the Knowsley Building, which accommodates some government ministries; All Saints’ Church (Anglican); and the neo-Renaissance Red House, rebuilt in 1906, which contains the Parliament and government offices. There are also Muslim and Hindu houses of worship in the city. Among the educational institutions are three well-established secondary schools: Queen’s Royal College, Fatima College, and St. Mary’s College. One of the campuses of the University of the West Indies is situated at St. Augustine, about 10 miles (16 km) east of the city.
Port of Spain landmarks by: Samantha Easy The oldest part of Port of Spain begins way down south at the waterfront, with the light house as anchor for the Fredrick Street, one of the most important streets in Port of Spain. Down this end is city gate, the main method of transportation to and from the city. Take a little walk up from city gate, and you find the busiest KFC in Trinidad. Across the road is the longest landmark, Brian Lara Promenade with the statue of Captain Cipirani the intersection of Fredrick Street and Promenade. Fredrick Street defines eastern edge of the heart of downtown, Woodford Square Park. Hart, Abercromby and Knox Street are the south, west, north edges of the historical landmark that retains memories of the fight for independence. In light of that it seemed best to surround the void with other important landmarks such as the Red House, Hall of Justice, National Library and Fire Station and let’s not forget the Holy Trinity Cathedral on the south making different chimes every 15 minutes adding tranquillity to the busy area. The Police Headquarters, with red and orange stripped arches resembling something out of the Harry Potter novels is located behind the Red house on St. Vincent Street. Returning to Fredrick Street and going up where it meets Oxford Street is the St. Mary’s College, Trinidad’s leading Catholic boys’ school. The St. Joseph’s Convent, the leading Catholic girls’ school as well as the first denominational secondary school is across the road from St. Mary’s College. Both school were built as a result of a religious tug of war in the early 1900s. At the end of Fredrick Street is the largest landmark in all of Trinidad and the largest traffic roundabout in the world. This green plantation landmark is given reverence and adorn by the natives, even from above it commands attention. The centre of attention, the venue of carnival, one word to describe Trinidad by is the Savannah.
Port of Spain vs. Kingston, by: Peighton Williams Port of Spain is well known as the home for Carnival and for the Queen’s Park Savannah or ‘The Savannah’ which is the largest traffic round-a-bout in the world. There, interested tourists can find the magnificent seven; these are a group of mansions located at the northwest corner of Queen’s Park Savannah on Maraval Road. From north to south, the mansions are: Killarney, Whitehall, Archbishop’s House, Roomer, Mille Fluers, Hayes Court, and Queen’s Royal College. The cityscape in ‘downtown’ Port of Spain, many would say, is quite similar to ‘downtown’ Kingston, Jamaica. The layout, the direction of traffic and the width of the sidewalk shows this. Even though this is so, the atmosphere and feeling of both spaces are vastly different. Port of Spain has a better grasp of the idea of what a city should be, unlike Kingston, Jamaica. It is pedestrian friendly, whether because of the free wide sidewalks or the more considerate drivers and visible pedestrian crossing. In Jamaica however, it is very much the opposite of Port of Spain. There are vendors occupying a vast majority of the sidewalks, many drivers don’t follow the road codes and there are little to no pedestrian crossings. No worries at night though, for in Kingston, by the time it gets to seven o’clock in the evening, there are hardly any people or vehicles on the road. In Port of Spain, it seems the liveliest at night. There is something happening on almost every street. On these same streets, the country hosts the massive event of Carnival. Many have their different opinions on the differences between Kingston and Port of Spain. However, some ideas and reasoning become skewered by nationalism, others by xenophilia. My experience of the culture, accent and cityscape influenced by the study of Urban Architecture steered my outlook of Port of Spain and Kingston. So my opinion of Trinidad and Jamaica on a whole was tainted by a bit of both, nationalism and
xenophilia. Nationalism especially when it comes to the food.
Vernacular vs. Modern by: Ramone Allen At first glance it is easy to ignore what type of building you are passing on the street in Port of Spain because of the density of buildings and narrowness of streets in some areas; but that is something that happens in many cities around the world. However, if one takes the time to look around Port of Spain you begin to notice a wide range of architectural styles both modern and vernacular; like Art Deco, Neo Classicism , Victorian and Gothic just to name a few. Port of Spain is literally one of the very few cities in the world where you would find a vernacular building juxtaposed with a massive modern building. Before I go any further, I should first define vernacular architecture. It is a category of architecture based on local needs and construction materials, and reflecting local traditions, as opposed to modern architecture that is generally characterized by simplification of form and an absence of applied decoration. With that being said, anyone can see that they are two very different styles of approach to architecture. Even though they are different, in Port of Spain you will notice a kind of harmony and fusion of the two styles created within the city. Throughout the city of Port of Spain youâ€™ll find vernacular buildings that have been converted for modern usage. At the same time I noticed that a lot of the newer modern or international style buildings adopted some features from the old vernacular buildings around the city. Port of Spain, unlike Kingston, has a culture of trying to maintain their vernacular buildings and finding a use for it, rather than knocking it down and building something new in its place. They have a huge restoration project ongoing in the city; such as the magnificent seven located west of the savannah and the Red House. This reverence they have for their vernacular buildings, along with ambitious modern building projects around the city, helps to give Port of Spain a certain character and uniqueness that is not found anywhere else in the world.
Walkability of Port of Spain by: Andrew Blackwood Walkability of the City Port of Spain, Trinidad, particularly the study area that was assigned to our class group could be described as easy. The social aspect of the city is one that contributes to its walkability, in addition to the close proximity of services and amenities of the city. The Brian Lara Promenade which is the heart of the city, lines the study area and moves up to the southern end of the Queenâ€™s Park Savannah. Evidently the allotted spaces for pedestrians are well kept and are of dimensions that accommodate ease of access and egress to streets and alleyways within the city. The city also spreads west to St. James, a 15 minute walk from the southern end of the Queens Park Savannah. The grid system of Trinidad and Tobago is aligned in orthogonal blocks running parallel and perpendicular to each other and takes less than two minutes to walk each block considering heavy pedestrian traffic in areas such as Frederick Street. The city also makes use of green spaces that act as transitional buffers between the districts in the city; so you can walk from the Brian Lara Promenade and within a few minutes you encounter Woodford Square, a green space in the city. A few minutes from Woodford Square is another green space which buffers the busier side of Port of Spain from the subtler side by virtue of difference in pedestrian traffic. Port of Spain is a city friendly to pedestrians, give or take you could take fifteen to twenty minutes from the National Agency of Performance Arts (South Queens Park Savannah) to the Brian Lara Promenade.
HISTORY OF THE TRINI BEAT Musically, Calypso, Soca and Steelpan music is what Trinidad and Tobago is best known for. Promoted internationally in the 1950s through artists like Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow, the art form was most popularised at that time by Harry Belafonte. Along with folk songs and African and Indian-based classical forms, cross-cultural interactions have produced other indigenous forms of music including rapso, chutney, and other derivative and fusion styles While soca may only have a cult following internationally, it is one of the most popular musical genres in the Caribbean, and arguably the most popular music in Trinidad and Tobago to date. Soca originated in Trinidad and Tobago and its creation is credited to the musician “The Godfather” Garfield Blackman, a.k.a. Lord Shorty. Blackman intentionally invented this new style of music as a reaction to fears among his peers that calypso music was fading away in favour of reggae music. In an attempt to counteract the preference for this new form of Jamaican and American-influenced music over the traditional Trinidadian calypso music, Lord Shorty was inspired to reinvent calypso music in an attempt to generate fresh interest. He did this by to adding classical Indian musical elements to traditional calypso music and refined the genre over ten years. Fusing classical Indian music and calypso made sense as Indians and Africans form the two largest ethnic groups in Trinidad. With the use of Indian traditional instruments such as the dholak, table and dhantal in his new style of calypso, he created this new genre called solka, later renamed “soca” and is said to be a combination of the words soul and calypso, i.e. ‘the soul of calypso’.
AVENUE - SHaq
Notable Structures Red House In 1844 Sir Henry McLeod, the Govenor, laid the foundation stone for new government offices. Richard Bridgens, Superintendent of Public Works and architect, designed two distinct building to be linked by a double archway over Sackville Street. The buildings underwent several modifications, one such change was to paint it red in memory of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This building then became known as Red House. The Red House is loosely described as French Renaissance and is distinguished on the outside by its high central Dome. This 34m dome covers a rotunda located in what used to be the roadway between the two original buildings. Sitting in Woodford Square, looking west towards the Red House, the dome and neoclassical details can appreciation in the design for all its beauty. Observing Red House from Abercromby Street or in Woodford Square, one can imagine Trinidad preparing to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria by painting the building red, and in all the excitement of the March 23, 1903 Water Riots, the Red House was burnt to the ground. Protests were held about the new law regarding the reasons for an increase in payments for and distribution of water in the town. The crowd got loud and rowdy to the point of riotous, the lives of Members of Council were in danger and soon after, it was discovered that the lower storey of the Red House was on fire. The Riot Act was read and thus the police men retaliated. Sixteen people died that day, forty two injured and the shell of the original Red House remained. Rebuilt in its existing form, it reopened in 1907 as housing for the legislative bodies in Trinidad and Tobago and is currently being worked on to preserve the memory of the Red House.
Holy Trinity Cathedral Sitting on the south border of Woodford Square, the Holy Trinity Cathedral is one of the oldest landmarks in Portof-Spain. This was the first Anglican Church in Trinidad and was located at the corner of Prince and Frederick Street and more commonly known as the Trinity Church. This timber structure was destroyed in 1808 by a fire that affected the city. A new church was started in 1809 in Brunswick Square (now Woodford Square) but was never completed due to public objections. The beautiful structure of brick, limestone (local) and stained glass that we see today was started in 1816 and finished two years later. The impressive hammer-beam truss roof of the church is made from local wood. Consecrated in 1823, the Holy Trinity Cathedral reflects a mixture of the styles Georgian, Gothic Revival and Victorian. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception At the eastern end of the Brian Lara Promenade in downtown Port of Spain you can find one of the oldest Catholic churches in Port of Spain, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with its two grand towers framing the entrance. On March 25, 1816 the foundation stone for the present Cathedral was laid by the countryâ€™s first civilian Governor Sir Ralph Woodford and the building was finally completed in 1836. The Cathedral was built in the shape of a Latin Cross and the walls are made of limestone quarried from the nearby Laventille Hills. One of the unique features of this Cathedral is the crypt beneath the church that houses the final remains of more than 15 high ranking Catholic Church officials, including Archbishops. Bodies have been interred from as early as 1828 with the most recent being Archbishop Anthony Pantin in the year 2000, the only local Archbishop of Port of Spain.
National Academy for the Performing Arts The Sydney Opera House carbon copy is located a few feet away from the savannah. Beautiful acoustics of the steel pan can be heard at times coming from this hundred feet tall aluminium cladded Chaconia, rightfully called NAPA. The National Academy of Performance Arts, the permanent home for the development of talent in the arts, features many open vistas for the enjoyment of the performance arts. The North region Napa has a 1500 seat acoustically designed performance hall, two practice hall, teaching rooms, hotel for visiting performers and stages designed to showcase pannist and other performance artistes on it 429,093 sq. ft land. Napa is not only enjoyed on this space but it flower like shape can be appreciated from far and wide places as one of the four hearts of Trinidad. Nicholas Tower Located along Independence South, this 21 storey (88m) building is one of the tallest structures found within the urban fabric of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in the Englishspeaking Caribbean. It is a unique building that is easily distinguishable with its elliptical blue-glassed form. The building was constructed on the site of Trinidad Union club, a 136 year old private club which now occupies the penthouse suite of the Nicholas Tower along with other large corporate businesses such as Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange. For me, seeing the Nicholas Tower was a unique experience. It undeniably demands attention with its distinctive oblique blue shape that is placed off axis in relation to the promenade. The form coupled with its scale can be overwhelming as it exudes a temple-like quality over the Independence square. Jeneill Codner
The (Old) Public Library (NALIS - National Library and Information System Authority) The first national library of Trinidad was established in 1851 when Lord Harris, Trinidadâ€™s governor from 1846 to 1854, put forward the ordinance to the Council of Government. It was not until 1902 that it moved to this site on Knox Street. This library was built with a simple arcaded second story, with the arcade providing shaded passageways for both the upper and lower levels of the library. The ground floor comprised a public readingroom, a lending library and a small office for the librarian. In 2003, the library moved to its new complex on the corner of Hart and Abercromby streets.
Old Fire Station Tower The old Fire Station, originally built in 1896/1897 and refurbished and renovated in 1999/2000, is an excellent example of the preservation of a historic building which has been elegantly blended with the modern architectural landscape of the city. Located at the corner of Hart and Abercromby Streets in Port of Spain, for 10 years (19891999) it was the home of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop which was founded and directed by West Indian poet and Nobel Prize winner, Derek Walcott. It has recently been incorporated into the National Library Complex and remains a historic gem in the city of Port of Spain.
Twin Towers The Twin Towers of Trinidad and Tobago, also known as the Eric William Plaza are the tallest pair of buildings located on Independence Square of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in the English-speaking Caribbean. It comprises of a pair of skyscrapers that are 22 stories high (92 m). The first tower houses the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (Eric Williams Financial Tower) while the second tower houses the Ministry of Finance (Central Bank tower). I find the neo-modernist styled Twin Towers quite stimulating in the city scape of Port of Spain. There is significant and keen attention paid to detail. At first glance one would assume that the cross bracing featured along the towers are solely ornamental, however this is not necessarily the case. The cross braces and core walls in both towers are a feature of the structures earthquake resistant design that allows for earthquake forces with the former taking 15% of the forces and the latter taking 85%. These buildings are truly magnificent with its fine use of detail, structure and aesthetics. Jeneill Codner
CITY GATE!! (how could we forget that?)
Districts in Port of Spain By: Ryan Dyer
According to Kevin Lynch, author of Image and the City, “districts are the medium-to-Iarge sections of the city, conceived of as having two-dimensional extent, which the observer mentally enters “inside of,” and which are recognizable as having some common, identifying character. Always identifiable from the inside, they are also used for exterior reference if visible from the outside.” Most people structure their city, to some extent in this way, and Port of Spain has been planned bearing this in mind. Nodes are typically the intensive foci of districts and are their polarizing center. Port of Spain hosts a series of districts within our study area. The most common districts are government official, residential, institutional, commercial and retail. The most important public and government buildings within the city are located around Woodford Square. It was built during the reign of the English and some term it ‘the university’ because on a daily basis, heated discussions arise from political issues stemming from the surrounding buildings. The residential community within Port of Spain can hardly be described as a district due to the limited number of residents remaining because the vast majority of the buildings within Port of Spain have been adopted for commercial and retail use. Institutional districts can be seen along Fredrick Street where St. Mary’s College, St. Joseph’s Convent and other minor schools are situated.
The Study Areas
Sector One In Sector 1, the predominant nodes were, Woodford square and Brian Lara promenade, these were later then broken down into micro nodes which scattered across the area offering different activities and interest that the community could involve in. The Water fountain located in the heart of Woodford square was an example of a good node, as its datum gave the park a sense of centrality, which resulted in people continuously gathering around the fountain throughout the course of the day. In Woodford square there was a gazebo which was located a few meters away from the water fall. This was an example of a bad node, as it was never at any one point really occupied by any particular groups or individuals, the reason maybe being that it didnâ€™t offer seating which would result in a problem, since the park was mostly used by the older members of the community. Secondly the Brian Lara promenade which was holistically seen a very successful node, lay near to the water front, south of Woodford square and to the west of Laventille. Through speaking to a resident, it was noted that the Brian Lara was greatly appreciated because it gave the people of Laventille a place that they could come together, talk, indulge in a warm serving of doubles or play their daily rounds of checkers. Brian Lara promenade based on its position and historical importance has become a social nucleus for the people of port of Spain. However as you continue to move west, you realize, that social activities begin to thin, as a result of the change in business types from retail to hotels and commercial buildings toward the west of the promenade.
Sector Two transport, or moments of shift from one structure to another. It is similarly related to the concept of district; single cores are typically the intensive foci of districts, their polarizing center. What takes place in the nodes usually includes transit through or a pause within the space. A successful node normally provides a good opportunity to meet or take a breather before continuing the journey. Nodes provide an added comfort to the residents especially from a dense area of dwelling. In the second sector there were not a lot of landmarks, but there were a few nodes. The rituals on the other hand are a dime a dozen. The sector my team occupied and studied, spanned from New Street to Duke Street. This area between Fredrick and Charlotte Street was the most active throughout the day. The nodes consisted of food shops and food stands, gas stations, street corners, gambling venues and even the Renegades Pan yard (the top steel pan group for carnival), which is very active onward into the evening when they are performing and practicing. Nodes in this aspect will lead to developing rituals. The rituals that took place in our sector were most evident from midday into the evening. This included lunch hour, which was almost exactly the same everyday. Closer in the evening, we see people traversing from the New Street area down past Duke Street to catch a taxi or other transportation. The sector hosts two parks: Victoria Square Park and Lord Harris Park, both being unsuccessful nodes, not inspiring a welcoming feeling. Also, the homeless use the benches in the nights as places to sleep. As the only green spaces in Portof-Spain, they stand out, as you would randomly see a tree in the middle of nowhere. A few informal landmarks also exist and such as the Fredrick Street axis, as majority of the people and vehicles venture throughout the days.
Sector Three In Sector 3 located to the north of Port of Spain, between Queen’s Park West and New Street, lay many different nodes, landmarks and rituals. The nodes on the road adjacent to The National Academy for the Performing Arts, cart stands near to College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) and Bishop Anstey High School. One landmark was the Memorial Park though it could also be considered as a node but not a very good one. Other places that can be considered landmarks are Albion Plaza and The National Academy for the Performing Arts. The only ritual that was noted in this sector is the ‘lunch hour’ ritual during the week, where at 12pm the working class floods the food areas along the street. The cart stands in the sector are major nodes in the area. The two most prominent ones are by COSTAATT and the carts by Bishop Anstey High School. The students gather around these carts during their lunch breaks and after school hours to socialize and buy snacks. The road to the east of The National Academy for the Performing Arts, Frederick Street, has a lot of cars parked alongside it during the day with people in them reading, eating and socializing. The National Academy for the Performing Arts is located to the north of Sector 3 and is one of the tallest buildings in the area with the style of architecture being different. The architecture is so different that this makes the building easily spotted from anywhere in the sector thus making it a good landmark. This is also true from Albion Plaza which is also located in the sector towering over most buildings in the area. Their vast height and shape make these two buildings landmarks in sector 3. In this mostly commercial area, there was only one ritual that could be readily identified. This is the lunch hour ritual where at 12:00pm, all the workers in the surrounding commercial area go the different restaurants for lunch.
Frederick Street can be considered the spine of the study area, the spine of the original Port of Spain. It is on Frederick street that Port of Spain comes together. Interestingly, it is one of the two streets that runs straight from the Savannah to the waterfront. It is a bussling street full of commerce and activity. Along Frederick street, one can find The Savannah (to the north), The National Academy for the Performing Arts, Memorial Park, Woodford Square, St. Maryâ€™s College, Brian Lara Promenade, The Beacon lighthouse, and City Gate. By hosting these institutions, Fredrick Street becomes possibly the most relevant and recognisable street in the city.