Two Tales of Trinidadian Architecture

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

A Tale Of Two Cities

Volume 1: An Historical Record of the Boissière & Piccadilly Houses, 2011 ¦ 68 pp

Produced and edited by Yvan-pièr Cazabon and André Ottley.

It may be difficult to appreciate, or even remember, as we Trinis rush about on our busy schedules, but we are surrounded by the structures of yesteryear. Their dusty halls, unlit chandeliers and still-beautiful wooden fretwork hold complete generations of memory, if we but paused to consider them.

The twin volumes, A Tale Of Two Houses and its companion title, A Tale From the Old Library, are simultaneous works of reportage and remembrance. The books were researched and documented by students of Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, beneath the tutelage of Professor Yvan-pièr Cazabon. Access to the historical buildings was facilitated by Trinidad and Tobago’s Citizens for Conservation Society.

Simply put, these books are gems: of conservation ethics; of careful archiving; of attention to detail and respect for history. They represent that curious, satisfying marriage of science and art, allowing us to see each of these three edifices — the Gingerbread House; the private Piccadilly Street dwelling, and the Old Public Library — through the grateful eyes of a renewed perspective. If you haven’t perused the books themselves, it’s difficult to conceptualize just how much information is lovingly stuffed into these slender, elegant volumes: photographs; line drawings, digital model images; building plans and other detailed diagrams all serve to highlight both past and present incarnations of their subject matter.

As historical records go, one might be hard-pressed to find any more exquisitely rendered and faithfully presented than these.

A Tale From The Old Library

Volume 2: An Historical Record of The Public Library on Knox Street, 2012 ¦ 68 pp

Produced and edited by Yvan-pièr Cazabon, Dalma J. French and André Ottley.

As a paired set, Volumes 1 and 2 would make splendid Christmas presents for:

  • Admirers of Trinbagonian architecture, and those deeply interested in its preservation;
  • Art, architecture, landscape and design students;
  • Historical buffs and photographers with a keen eye for heritage-rich scenery.