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My Kingston — DAVID CUTHBERT

Registered architect & director at CutWorks Architecture

Sunday, September 24, 2017

 

What are your earliest memories of Kingston?

Summers spent at the Institute of Jamaica, doing still life and figure drawings. Also, tours of the Ward Theatre and the old buildings along King Street as a seven- or eight-year-old. I believe these memories helped shape my interests, which ultimately made me an architect.

 

What's the most memorable meal that you have enjoyed in Kingston?

I am blessed to have chefs and culinary wizards as friends and have been favoured with meals that were near transcendental, but the meal that brings me back home — that tells me I am in Kingston — is at Moby Dick on Orange Street. Jamaican curry at its best.

 

What would you do if you were mayor of Kingston for a day?

I would turn all the disused and near-forgotten movie theatres — like the one on the corner of East Street and South Camp Road — into museums and centres for culture. In many cases, the ornate façades conceal large parcels of land, ripe for a creative mind to make spaces that are both beautiful and meaningful. But if that is too ambitious for one day, I would at least plant a tree or two, so that our grandchildren may sit in the shade of this lovely city.

 

What would be your recommendations to a first-time visitor to Kingston?

To take a walk on the waterfront, go to Coronation on market day, watch cricket at Sabina Park, and spend a Sunday at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Kingston is filled with opportunities for lasting memories.

 

Which edifice or structure on The Rock would you laud as a feat of engineering and/or design?

For design, the Jamaica Conference Centre has always stood out, to me. The building has this beautiful marriage of materials, of industry and craft, and of the hard and soft that exists between the concrete and wicker elements. Also, the buildings that were designed and built during our Independence I find to evoke a spirit of renewal, anticipation, and freedom. I think, along the way we have forgotten what these buildings were meant to symbolise.

 

In the Three Little Pigs fable, the straw and stick houses didn't fare too well. Make a case for such buildings in 2017.

The little piggies' houses of straw and sticks may not have been strong enough to withstand the puffs and gusts of the big bad wolf; however, these houses were made with renewable materials that came directly from nature. We should all aim to use more sustainable materials in our homes but, of course, ones that are robust enough to handle our hurricanes and climate.

 

Is high-rise architecture underutilised in our island city/townscapes?

We have for too long been unnecessarily expanding our settlements into former farmlands and ecologically sensitive areas. This has come at a great cost to our environment as we sit in our cars for hours because we live way too far away from where we work and where we play. What we really need are denser cities, where the things we want and our essentials are but a short distance away — this is what high-rises would facilitate.

 

Does prefab always have to be a dirty word?

Far from. There are many talented developers working with prefabricated forms that are a far cry from the systems of old. These updated systems are designed to be efficient and cost-effective, but what we often assume is that they have to be dull and dreary, and that's the furthest thing from the truth.

 

On any residential project, which is typically your favourite room to design?

Any space that connects with the outdoors and is allowed the opportunity to blur the boundaries of inside and out. These provide the greatest challenges and when successful, the richest reward.

 

Rectilinear or curvilinear?

Curvilinear forms captivate and inspire us, but often don't work as we are unable to fit furniture and the things we have in those spaces. We have to be able to move within those spaces for them to truly come alive. I personally prefer the curves to remain in real life: the river winding down the mountainside, a skirt draped along a woman's form, or a kite dancing in the wind.