January 15, 2009

Starchitects in the Caribbean

Villa D, Zaha Hadid Architects

Dezeen recently featured the works of Shigeru Ban as part of Dellis Cay, a project consisting of million dollar villas designed by esteemed architects in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The list also includes Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, Kengo Kuma, Piero Lissoni, Chad Oppenheim, among others.

I mention this with excitement and reticence. Whilst it is great to have significant works of architecture constructed in the Caribbean - even though they are exclusive private residences, and aside from the historic precedents that exist - I am somewhat concerned with the environmental considerations of these projects.

Maison H , Shigeru Ban

The proposal showed by Shigeru Ban makes me consider if it is fit for purpose. The Caribbean is a brutal environment and requires robust construction. The world was educated on the destructive power that hurricanes yield with Katrina and in the Caribbean the hurricane season runs for over 6 months. We also average over 250 sunny days frequently with temperatures over 29°C that no amount of double glazing can effectively diminish. Throw in the humidity, rising tides and sea level changes and it begs certain questions from many of the renders and imagery shown. In the Caribbean, environmentally sensitive design is not optional, but for our survival.

A cautionary word - starchitects take note due diligence is required.

1 comment:

Thalia in Jamaica said...

Really well said!! As a non-architect interested in design from an organic place in my spirit, and through the impressions from my super-architect-sibling, I often wonder why the fairytale beauty of designs in the magazines don't play on the fact that here in the West Indies (oops, did I just date myself??) architecture is tested and tested and tested by Mother Nature and her followers, aka mankind, before it is rendered truly beautiful..

Could we do a follow up piece on architecture that doesn't fight nature but doesn't trample it either?? Homes underground in the Australian desert come to mind and those dome structures that have popped up on seasides in the U.S....

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