Architecture Studio "Bonds" Mythology to Cultural Tourism in Tobago
The island of Tobago, located off the northeastern coast of Venezuela, was the site of an eight-day field trip taken by students in the architecture option studio titled Cultural Tourism in Trinidad and Tobago: Promoting Carnival, Calypso, and Bond Culture in Crusoeland. The class is taught by Professor Henry Richardson, architecture, and Darren Brathwaite (B.Arch. '96), founder and director of Ten Degrees North, an architecture and planning firm in Tobago.
The field trip's main objectives were to conduct a visual survey and inventory of Tobago's tourism sites, including slave plantations and colonial forts, and to visit and document possible sites for the studio project: the design of a "Bond Resort" in Speyside and Goat Island — the latter rumored to be James Bond series author and creator Ian Fleming's private island retreat — to serve as a key destination on the Tobago tourism circuit.
Work sessions allowed the students to test hypotheses they had developed prior to making the trip. "Our travels were interspersed with periodic debriefing, brainstorming sessions, and a charrette in which student teams worked on the fly to develop preliminary concepts and designs for their Bond projects," said Richardson. "Reviews and presentations were held in Villa 139, our equivalent of Bond's MI6 headquarters."
The group visited an old cocoa plantation and explored the ruins of a sugarcane plantation and remnants of a port where sugar was shipped from the island to England. To overcome the rugged terrain, a drone was used to video and photograph the sites. For Richardson, a highlight of the visit to Speyside was a ride to Goat Island in a glass-bottomed boat, where they filmed Ian Fleming's villa.
The boat's glass bottom view of marine life, as well as a two-story boat ride providing seascape views, inspired Nicole Rubin's (B.Arch. '19) project of a resort suspended on the water between two parts of Goat Island and taking an elliptical shape inspired by the structure of a hurricane. "The eye of my hurricane is protected by the resort's main program," said Rubin. "It has a protected bathing pool that calms down the otherwise rough waters surrounding the resort."
Also mindful of the Bond mythology, the team of Aya Mears (B.Arch. '18) and Daniel Villegas Cruz (B.Arch. '18) focused on the island heritage sites related to Tobago's colonial past. Their project, titled New Mythology, is a series of "architecturalized vignettes" that includes a culinary institute and a "spy residence" on Goat Island. The culinary institute would attract tourists and revitalize the local culture and cuisine of Tobago, while the residence would have an artist's studio and observatory. "Both buildings are examples of hiding in plain sight, arguably the best cover for any spy," said Mears.
The other students who travelled to Tobago were Zachary Calbo-Jackson (B.Arch. '19), Yuping Dai (M.Arch.II '18), Michaela Delasanta (B.Arch. '18), Ibrahim Desooky (B.Arch. '18), Sophia Lee (B.Arch. '19), Jisoo Sim (B.Arch. '18), Tara Chen Sue (B.Arch. '19), Raksarat Vorasucha (B.Arch. '19), and Amy Wood (B.Arch. '19).
By Patti Witten