Building closer relations between the planners in the English and French Caribbean

Dr. Perry Polar (Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management (CNULM), Trinidad and Tobago), along with Carolyn Trench Sandiford (President of the Caribbean Planners Association (CPA), Belize), Femia Wasenhagen (FERACON Planning and Design Consultants, Suriname), Margaret McDowall-Thompson (Planner, Trinidad and Tobago), Marie Duarul (Eco-construction consultant, cd2e, France) and Christine Lafeuille (Risk Assessment Specialist, Lille Metropole, France) were invited to attend the Conference entitled “Rencontres Guadeloupéennes de L’Urbanism et du Bâtiment Durable” (The Guadeloupe experience in Urbanization and Sustainable Buildings) from 7th -10th October 2015. This event was hosted by Réseau D’Urbanisme Durable (Guadeloupe), The Council for Architecture, Town planning and Environment (CAUE), Agence de’lEnvironment et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie (Guadeloupe) and other sponsors.

Figure 1. Dr Polar  during his presentation on CUF.
Figure 1. Dr Polar during his presentation on CUF.

Dr. Polar presented on the Caribbean Urban Forum. His key points included:
• He spoke a bit French but preferred to deliver his presentation in English
• Tobago was a French colony. Although Trinidad was not a colony of France, there was substantial number of French settlers in Trinidad and Tobago in the late 18th Century. This has had significant impact on our culture including the development of a patois (no longer spoken by mainstream), Trinidad Carnival and some characters within it. He stated that there is need for a closer relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and France.
• The CNULM was a networking organization bringing together Universities, agencies and organizations in urban and land management. He spoke to3 projects in heritage and curriculum review.
• He stated that the Caribbean Urban Forum is a gathering of policy makers, land use practitioners, academics and other land management professions for policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building. He shared information on the countries which hosted CUFs since 2011, number of participants, organization/ countries of attendance and key activities at CUF5 in St Lucia earlier this year.
• He noted that CUF2016 will be held in Suriname defined the theme and sub-themes
• He posited the question asking if the audience would like CUF2017 to be held in Guadeloupe. There was a response by the audience that we would work towards this possibility.
• There is the possibility of facilitating internships for students in the French Caribbean at CNULM.

Figure 2. Margaret McDowall speaking on the potential for Port of Spain's heritage
Figure 2. Margaret McDowall speaking on the potential for Port of Spain’s heritage

The other presenters focused on the following topics:
• Plan to introduce a rapid bus (electric) system in Martinique (Franck Numeric)
• Strategies for de-polluting industrial sites to make them fit for use (Christine Lafeuille)
• Recycling clothing for use as insulation material (Marie Darul)
• Proposed heritage conservation plans for areas in Port of Spain (Belmont, Woodford Square, Piccadilly, Queens Park Savannah) (Margaret MacDowall-Thompson)
• Description of an ecologically sustainable building a Le Parc National de Guadeloupe (Perrine Huguet and Lauren Seauve)
• Details on Degree in Architecture and Sustainable Buildings in Caribbean and Amazonian environment (Ted Soubdhan and Véronique Phalente)
• Eco-construction- see, touch, understand (Marie Darul)
• The potential for a bamboo industry in Suriname to supply construction materials (Femia Wasenhagen)
• Challenges in the planning profession in the Caribbean (Carolyn Sandiford Trench)

The Conference also had several associated activities. These included:
(1) Visit to Basse Terre and Pointe-à-Pitre
Guadeloupe is composed of the two main islands, Grande Terre and Basse Terre as well as smaller islands and has a land area of 1629 km2. Grande Terre and Basse Terre are separated by a narrow strait which is bridged. A field trip was organized from Le Gossier (a sea side resort area) is part of the urban area of Pointe-à-Pitre which is the commercial capital of Guadeloupe as it is the site of its main port and home to approximately 40% of its population. Basse-Terre (the administrative capital) is located on the southwestern part of the island, also termed Basse Terre which is largely mountainous. The city was founded in 1643 but was temporarily evacuated in 1976 when Le Grand Soufriere erupted.

Figure 3. Beautifying the aesthetics of urban spaces
Figure 3. Beautifying the aesthetics of urban spaces

(2) New headquarters at National Park of Guadeloupe
A sustainable building was constructed at the new headquarters of the National Park of Guadeloupe. The building was designed to follow the contours of the landscape and not to damage the terrain. Boulders from the area were collected to form the foundation.

Figure 4. Photograph of the new headquarter of the Guadeloupe National Park
Figure 4. Photograph of the new headquarter of the Guadeloupe National Park

Internally the building is composed of mainly of a mesh with attached pieces of wood. This allows for the free flow of air negating the need for air conditioning but also allows for shade in the lobby and corridors. Transparent plastic sheeting and reflectors on the windows also allows for light. Birds and other small creatures may have interaction with people, a concept which is disappearing in our current form of urbanization.

Figure 5. Inside the headquarters of the Guadeloupe National Park (Parc National de la Guadeloupe)
Figure 5. Inside the headquarters of the Guadeloupe National Park (Parc National de la Guadeloupe)

(3) Memorial ACTe

The Memorial ACTe (Centre Caribeen d’expressions et de Mémoire de la Traite et de L’Esclavage – Caribbean Centre for the expressions and the memory of the slave trade and slavery). Construction began in 2013 and it was inaugurated on May 10th 2015 by French President François Hollande in the presence of several ACP Heads of State and the people of Guadeloupe.

Inspired by the impressive root system of the banyan trees which grows into bare rock on an adjacent hill, the architectural design chosen was “Silver roots on a black box”. The black box represents the cornerstone sheltering the riches contained in the knowledge of the past on which memory was being built. The roots represent the quest for the origins to which the history of slavery and the slave trade. The structure also forms part of a waterfront urban regeneration project for Pointe-à-Pitre.

Figure 6. The two buildings of the Memorial ACTe which connects to the Minimalist Park (photo taken from gangway)
Figure 6. The two buildings of the Memorial ACTe which connects to the Minimalist Park (photo taken from gangway)

(4) Construction of Elderly hospital with sustainability elements
The Elderly Hospital at Palais Royal, City of Abymes is currently under construction. The names of the wings reflect the names of the countries of the Caribbean. It will house elderly persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and persons without hence issues of access were considered (i.e. requirement for passes, high fences).

Figure 7. Design plans for the Elderly Hospital at Palais Royal
Figure 7. Design plans for the Elderly Hospital at Palais Royal

Of note is the solar air conditioning which is being installed. Water in tubes on the roof will be heated by the sun and pumped into vats. While some hot water will be used to supply the needs of the facility, for the most part, the energy will be extracted from the water and used to generate electricity through a process of gas exchange. The water will then be cooled and pumped through insulated pipes in the building for cooling.

Figure 8. Rooftop will be outfitted with piping for solar air conditioning
Figure 8. Rooftop will be outfitted with piping for solar air conditioning
Figure 9. Inversion system for cooling of water
Figure 9. Inversion system for cooling of water

All participants were pleased for the opportunity to learn from the Guadeloupe experience as Guadeloupe has demonstrated the ability to translate urban planning concepts of actions which can impact on energy efficiency and climate change.

 

CUF5: Strengthening the planning framework in the Caribbean

CUF 5Written by Rebecca Walcott (CNULM Intern)

The 5th Annual Caribbean Urban Forum: Island Systems Planning (CUF5) was held from the 10th -12th June 2015 at the Bay Gardens Hotel, St Lucia. The forum focused primarily on advancing land use planning and urban management within the Caribbean urban sector. The Organizing Committee included The Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal, Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners (SLILUP), Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management (CNULM) based at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in association with CARICOM Secretariat and supported by the European Union. The past CUF Conferences were held in Guyana (2011), Jamaica (2012), Trinidad and Tobago (2013), and Barbados (2014) and has contributed to its growing regional and international audience of professionals that work in the field of urban and land management. The major goal is to facilitate activities that contribute to the strengthening of the regional planning framework.

 

Figure 1: Head table at the CUF Opening Ceremony representatives from the CUF5 Organizing Committee
Figure 1: Head table at the CUF5 Opening Ceremony representatives from the CUF5 Organizing Committee

The forum provided the opportunity for discussion and examination of urban issues redefined to meet the nature of current settlement patterns within the Caribbean region. The three-day conference explored the primary theme of “Island Systems Planning”, which recognizes that the patterns of urbanization in the Caribbean are unique and require tailored solutions to address them.

Figure 2: Keynote address by Senator Stanley Felix, Minister for Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal
Figure 2: Senator Stanley Felix, Minister for Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal giving the keynote address

Through presentations, workshops and discussions, the conference addressed specific policy issues within the Caribbean urban sector and united Caribbean and international land use practitioners, policy makers, academics and allied professionals interested in urban and land management issues within the Caribbean. The presentations explored potential solutions to meet the current constraints of island system planning.

Figure 3: Mark Raymond presenting “An Architecture of Sustainability”
Figure 3: Mark Raymond presenting “An Architecture of Sustainability”

Thematic areas included:

  • Island Systems Planning;
  • Sustainable Land Management in the face of Climate Change;
  • Local Economic Development in the Caribbean;
  • Moving towards Energy Efficiency: Alternatives & Opportunities;
  • Professional Planning Practice, Education & Training;
  • Habitat III Agenda: The Role of Small Island States in the Habitat Agenda
  • Housing Policy in the Caribbean: Lessons Learned & New Directions; and
  • Sustainable Development in Saint Lucia.

Several events were held at CUF5 including:

 

Official Launch of The Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners (SLILUP)

Figure 4: Launch of the Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners
Figure 4: Launch of the Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners

The Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners was launched at CUF5. The formation of national associations of planners in each Caribbean island and their incorporation as members of the Caribbean Planners Association supports strengthening of the regional planning framework by encouraging the greater recognition of the planning fraternity and their role as a policy lobby.

Prior to 2012, only three national associations of planners existed: Trinidad and Tobago Society of Planners (TTSP), Barbados Town and Country Planners Society (BTCPS) and the Jamaica Institute of Planners (JIP). With assistance from other international planning associations and support from UN-Habitat, the Caribbean Planners Association was formed in 2012 as an umbrella body and the formation was endorsed by CARICOM. Since then, efforts have led to the formation of the Belize Association of Planners (2013) and the Planning Association of Dominica (PAD) (2015). The Guyana Planners Association is also scheduled to be formed in 2015. Suriname, British Virgin Islands and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are in the process of forming national associations.

 

Launch of the UN-Habitat publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in SIDS

 The UN-Habitat publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) aims to provide an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of Climate change in relation to human settlements in SIDS. It collects initial thoughts in response to the call of SIDS for “the strengthening of the long-standing cooperation and support provided by the international community” and “enable strong, genuine and durable partnerships at the subnational, national, sub regional, regional and international levels” (UNGA 2014). The report is currently available from UN-Habitat website.

Figure 5: Launch of the UN-Habitat publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in SIDS. (L-R) Ms. Jenny Daniels (SLILUP), Marcus Mayr (UN-Habitat) and Dr. Asad Mohammed (CNULM).
Figure 5: Launch of the UN-Habitat publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in SIDS. (L-R) Ms. Jenny Daniels (SLILUP), Marcus Mayr (UN-Habitat) and Dr. Asad Mohammed (CNULM).

 

Planning tour to the Monchy Housing Development

A site visit to the Monchy Housing Development provided the opportunity to identify the successes and implementation of housing intervention for the regularization of unplanned settlements. The size of houses allocated was based on initial equity already invested in structures.

Figure 6: Houses at Monchy Housing Development
Figure 6: Houses at Monchy Housing Development
Figure 7: (L-R) Dr. Perry Polar, Mrs. Lisa Blenman- David and Ms. Sarika Mahabir of the CNULM
Figure 7: (L-R) Dr. Perry Polar, Mrs. Lisa Blenman- David and Ms. Sarika Mahabir of the CNULM

 

City on the Hill

The film City on the Hill, a documentary on the built and cultural heritage in East Port of Spain supported by the GORTT -UWI RDIFUND fund was screened under the theme Local Economic Development for the Caribbean. The introduction to the film is as follows:

“Through historical records and markings on the landscape, the film examines the craftsmanship of those whose labour was quarried to erect the early buildings of Port of Spain. It makes connections between a spiritual architecture and its influences on music, dance and artistic production now recognized among the primary signifiers of culture of the nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The film explores how the contributions made by this urban settlement may be harnessed for economic growth.

The conventional narrator is replaced with the poetry and prose of Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace and Wayne Brown read by Wendell Manwarren of 3 Canal, thus absorbing the literary lens on this rich built and cultural heritage which we discover through testimonies of creativity and survival of its citizens young and old. The documentary works against the grain of how Laventille has been conventionally presented, unraveling the dominant image of violence, indolence and poverty with the creative traditions and symbols that future development should preserve.”

Figure 8: Documentary: City on the Hill
Figure 8: Documentary: City on the Hill

 

Urban Planning For City Leaders Workshop (UN Habitat)

On June 9th 2015, immediately prior to the CUF, at the Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia, the United Nations Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in conjunction with the CNULM executed a one-day workshop “Urban Planning for City Leaders”. A total of 24 participants attended the workshop from countries such as Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica. For more than forty years, UN-Habitat has been one of the leading urban and human settlements programmes worldwide, and this year was no exception.

The one-day workshop aimed at offering a practical snapshot of the sustainable planning principles, key tools for planning city extensions, addressing urban informality, valuing public space and increasing climate resilience. The projects overall objective is to improve energy security in Caribbean countries and mitigate climate change by reducing energy consumption as a result of urban sprawl, inefficient transportation systems and improving energy efficiency of buildings.

The workshop focused on the following objectives:

  •  Explaining new methods and approaches for sustainable urban planning
  • Analyze what good planning practices is and what it can achieve for rapidly developing cities
  • Identify the positive impact of sustainable urban planning with reference to real life case studies

This year’s workshop facilitated sessions by Dr. Asad Mohammed (CNULM), Marcus Mayr (UN-Habitat) and Mr. Sohel Rana (UN-Habitat via Skype) focusing on five main topics:

  1. Sustainable Urban Pattern for Planned Development
  2. Planned City Extension and UN-Habitat Approach
  3. Public Space for a Livable City
  4. Addressing Urban Informality
  5. Build Resilience and Reduce Climate Risks.

 

Urban Design Studio for Energy Efficient Campus Design and Management

The ACP-EU project: Mainstreaming Energy Efficiency and Climate Change in Built Environment Training and Research in the Caribbean (CarEnTrain) aims to improve energy security in Caribbean countries and mitigate climate change by reducing the consumption of energy resulting from urban sprawl, inefficient transportation systems and improving energy efficiency of buildings.

Figure 9: Urban design features on building which promote cross-ventilation and cooling
Figure 9: Urban design features on building which promote cross-ventilation and cooling

The project hosted the first urban design studio in order to educate campus administrators and urban professionals on the importance of urban design to the greening of campuses. Bart Janssens and Tom Coppens of University of Antwerp, and Jacqueline Brown of UTECH at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) delivered the course on the 8th-9th June 2015 in Saint Lucia. The basic principles behind urban design were taught and examples of urban design at different campuses were discussed. The course concluded with an analysis of the SALCC campus and recommendations to improve energy efficiency. Most notably was that many of the buildings constructed as part of a fort had urban design features which allowed for natural ventilation and cooling. However, upon its adaptation to use as a school, partitions were used to make offices that reduced natural ventilation and led to the need for air condition.