Monday, 3 November 2008

The Interior of Memory

Trinidad's vernacular architecture is a reflection of its patchwork history. The only true indigenous architecture is probably the Ajoupa which was well established by the Amerindians by the time Columbus did his discovery dance on the shores of southern Trinidad. The Ajoupa was made of forest wood and covered in palm or carat leaves. But the most beloved of all the local architectural styles would still have to be The Gingerbread House design with its extensive fretwork and high ceilings.
The world of the fretwork and jalousied house provides the shadows and interesting crannies that make for the magical feel of these old homes.

Textures and patterns were designed to throw light and catch waning breezes. Trinidad embraced and built upon the original Victorian concept of the Gingerbread house because it paired so beautifully with our highly humid climate.
According to John Newel Lewis's Ajoupa. Architecture of the Caribbean. Trinidad's Heritage Republic of Trinidad and Tobago:
"The Victorians did not like harsh glare and they would not be pleased with today's interiors. In the Gingerbread house light and air were filtered through the eaves, the fretwork, the hanging plants, the galleries, the jalousies, windows and flowing curtains.
The sunshine was reduced to a soft glow and the rain was eliminated from the breeze. The invention of the fretsaw in 1865 has made the cut-out patterning of boards feasible and the light was then fragmented.
Nowaways some designers expect the glass louvre to do all this at once. It can't." p221