Cortile Duca: Imagine Living in the Heart of Port of Spain

Pockets of distressed and decaying urban areas are typical in almost every city due to underused and/ or under-utilised property. Our capital city, Port of Spain is no exception.  There are little housing opportunities in the heart of Port of Spain – though plagued with vehicular and pedestrian traffic during the day as our nation’s centre of business and commerce, after dark the streets are lifeless and many find security to be of concern – this is atypical of a thriving city. When there are declines in a city’s urban growth and productivity patterns, this calls for a dedicated exercise in urban regeneration.

Through clever, practical design we can foster an organic, renewed sense of belonging and community within Port of Spain.  The key is to transform decaying areas by repurposing existing sites and infrastructure, to deliver something that’s special and tailor-made for our diverse Trinbagonian people to simultaneously live, work and play in. This transformation requires intentional design strategies that are holistic in nature, human centred and promote public life.

DEVELOPING AN URBAN OASIS

View looking towards the main entry and colonnade

Cortile Duca is a proposed mixed-use residential development in the heart of Port of Spain. This project is a high rise apartment development with recreational spaces and a commercial ground floor that provides retail activity supported by landscaped communal zones. The central location provides easy access to several amenities and the vibrancy of the city. High density mixed use structures such as this will foster additional land use diversity and economic activity within close proximity, supplying the demand for civic, commercial and parking services.   

The building’s aesthetic is a result of the rhythmic projection of balconies which aid in passively cooling the apartments and offer elegantly framed views of the city beyond to its inhabitants. Passive sustainable strategies learnt from our native vernacular architecture have been adopted throughout the design of this building with additional cross ventilation achieved by using lattice screens that dually add to the building’s beauty and provide sun shading. Its courtyard nature draws the passerby into the ground floor loggia, shops and dining which offers a unique moment of repose within the city.

Sustainability is a key factor in the development as at the core of a regenerative city concept lies the understanding that this is essential, considering the speed and scale of current resource consumption in the city. This puts the emphasis on the need for city-homes to not only sustain but to actively regenerate the natural resources they need and absorb.

ECO-FRIENDLY COMMUNAL LIVING

Every building in a city ideally, should include communal spaces regardless of the building type. Facilitating interaction is one of many methods to make architecture humane. They become urban centres that foster social interaction by providing additional facilities for users to enjoy, which increases the functional value of a structure. With urban regeneration a sense of community is necessary and to accomplish this our city structures need to be more focused on user-friendliness.

In Cortile Duca several communal spaces were designed throughout the development for both residents and the public, from the sidewalk cafes that allows one to take in the pulse of the city to a more secluded courtyard at the rear, with a water feature that drowns out the city sounds in a more tranquil setting. On the rooftop there’s an open-to-sky pool deck and gym that takes advantage of the panoramic city views from Port of Spain’s skyline to the Gulf of Paria or the Northern Range.

The city itself is thus a powerful symbol of a complex society and as such there isn’t any one solution to solving its issues. However, urban regeneration is important because we need to ensure that our capital provides a thoughtful city image, by providing more living spaces that coexist with its working spaces that are fit for the future and enable the citizens to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Ideation done in collaboration with Darmanie Planning + Design | Design development done in collaboration with Stephan Homer Architect