Architect: Tony Brooks
This sprung from a very early interest in art, an appreciation for order and an equally early exposure to building technology and construction. These interests found a ready marriage in architecture. Later as my thoughts matured, the recognition that we are leaving behind legacies that form and complement the environment, that are useful to society and in which people find shelter and delight gave that choice more meaning to me.
Who was your first mentor and how did he/she influence you?
I don’t have a mentor as such. Rather I have gathered around me as many examples of what I love and have tried to understand why I loved them. I am still trying to find out.
How would you describe your design sense/style?
Simple but bold architectural statements that work and function perfectly and that are punctuated with a splash of colour. I make a deliberate effort not to be pigeonholed, although I am a classicist at heart, and am guided by those general principles at the outset of every project. My initial designs are quickly tossed or subsumed depending on what I am seeking to achieve with the final architecture; they may move towards being minimalist, modern, cubist or Caribbean neo-classical.
What is your favourite building in the Caribbean?
Two that currently linger are located in Trinidad – the recently completed Cultural Centre on the south side of the Queen’s Park Savannah and the point block on the corner of Abercrombie Street and Independence Square, Port of Spain. They are both simple geometries with glass envelopes.
Which is your own favourite out of your portfolio of work?
The ‘Walk of Fame’ at the Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies, Barbados. In the design of this monument to our West Indian Cricket Heroes, we tried to capture the symbolism of Sir Frank Worrell to West Indian people in general, and West Indian cricket in particular – in as simple an architectural form as we could.
What do you think you, and your industry as a whole, can do to make homes/buildings more environmentally friendly?
Professional architects should be at the forefront of the lobby against cutting up scarce land resources into small lots for sale. The industry should support the development of medium rise residential developments with excellent social and community amenities including green spaces and recreational facilities. Additionally, we should advocate for external space around all buildings being covered in green vegetation, residences being free of air conditioning except in extraordinary cases and that all residences should capture, treat and reuse their liquid waste.
What do you dream of one day designing if money were no object?
An eco-friendly residence so in tune with its physical environment that it is virtually undetectable. A residence with no obvious envelope but that is defensible and, thermally and otherwise, comfortable.
What are the biggest challenges or frustrations you face in your work?
Achieving all the objectives I set for myself on a particular day.
Where would we find you on a Friday night?
That is an easy one. You would most certainly find me ballroom or Latin dancing, or at home resting.
What is your favourite vacation spot?
My favourite vacation spot is not destination specific…London, New York, Toronto…somewhere where there is an abundance of performing arts.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My art collection.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be totally eloquent in the use of oils, pastels, charcoal, pencil, pen, watercolours …and to be singing Puccini while using them.
What inspires you to keep designing?
It is exhilarating to see the elated responses of clients whose dreams and ideas I have successfully translated into reality. It is from this that I receive my inspiration.
What is your motto?
These ideals are non-architectural but guide whatever I do: respect all people; embrace and enjoy the environment; seek peace and strive for perfection.
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