Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 4th 2014 Contents A33
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Dick Smith, the Oscar-
winning "Godfather of
Makeup" who amused, fas-
cinated and terrified movie-
goers by devising
tions for Marlon Brando in
The Godfather and Linda
Blair in The Exorcist among
many others, has died. He
Smith, the first makeup
artist to win an Academy
Award for lifetime achieve-
ment, died Wednesday in
California of natural causes.
His death was confirmed to
The Associated Press by the
president of the Make-up
Artists and Hairstylists
Guild, Sue Cabral-Ebert,
who declined to give further
"Our lives have been
blessed by our father s
steadfast love and we thank
you from the bottom of our
hearts for your kind words in
remembrance of him,"
Smith s sons, David and
Douglas Smith, said in a
Widely regarded as the
master in his field, Smith
helped pioneer such now-
standard materials as liquid
foam latex and made special
effects more realistic and
J SURTEES: Is there enough
land space for everybody on the
HDC housing list to have their own
place to live? If so how will we
J SMITH: The issues facing T&T
in terms of housing are issues being
shared by many other countries in
the world. By 2030 there will be five
billion people living in cities. That
equates to building a city of one
million inhabitants every week for
the next 20 years to house that
number of people.
In order to satisfy that we have
to start thinking about the scale at
which we do things and the speed.
In terms of scale we have to think
about sharing information (globally).
In terms of speed we have to
increase the use of prefabrication.
An idea which is gaining currency
is helping an owner to build half
their house and they complete the
rest. The more difficult parts of the
house like the structure are built
but the internal areas, decorative
elements and additional things
would be added on.
Are these government housing
There are two models I ve been
thinking about, one more successful
than the other. Let s start with the
less successful model, which is called
Mina Casa Mina Vida, a proposal
in Brazil to deal with massive social
housing. Millions of households
needed to be built. The way they
answered that need was with private
partnerships. They were still social
housing as they provided access to
credit for owners and developers,
high subsidies and high tax incen-
The problem is that although
they ve achieved statistical targets
in terms of the number of houses,
the results have been quite low-
quality in terms of architecture and
infrastructure and amenities.
Is that because it doesn t work
when private developers are used?
In this case, because of the scale
of the project they needed big-scale
contractors. They wanted to do a
good job but also maximise profit
and there wasn t much engagement
with the communities who were
supposed to be living in these new
And it wasn t successful?
No. The buildings were too stan-
dardised to cope with different fam-
ily types. Units had absolute min-
imum space standards and no
flexibility for re-use and expansion.
They lacked social integration
because the properties were on the
outskirts of town in the low-cost
housing area and they ended up
with the usual problems associated
Are we falling into that trap here
We haven t built at the same scale
as in Brazil but you can see for your-
self that social housing here is a bit
cookie cutter (mass produced/lack-
ing character) in design and the
interstitial spaces and community
facilities aren t really thought out.
We must stop using "units" as our
benchmark, "we ve got to build
3,000 units this year" kind of thing.
The mission is really building healthy
communities and using the available
land in the most appropriate and
We re still building a Corbusian
idea of "zoning" when we should
be producing mixed developments
where people can work from home,
walk down the road and buy a dou-
bles and you don t have to get in
your car to go everywhere.
When you build mixed house-
hold developments do you have to
get the different family types signed
up beforehand or do you just base
it roughly on the demographic
makeup of the population with
semi-confidence that all the units
will be filled?
There is such a need for the hous-
ing that the way it is currently done
is not as scientific as you suggest.
What would be useful would be if
there was more access to informa-
tion in terms of the census---elderly
people for example---and indepth
understanding of the existing social
housing estates, what works well
and what doesn t.
In Brixton (London), there s an
estate imagined in drawings with
places where people would socialise
on these elevated walkways and
moving between buildings. In reality
they just became areas for crime.
So it s about lessons learned.
And what about the second
model you mentioned?
It s about the overall trend away
from this "cookie cutter" housing.
You can use standardisation to push
down cost but give home owners a
lead role in determining how their
houses will eventually look. It s a
pretty exciting idea.
How does it work?
An architectural firm called Ele-
mental in Chile came up with the
idea of the half-finished home. Their
statement was that social housing
should be a social investment not
a social expense. They had 93 fam-
ilies that needed to be rehoused in
an area that looks quite similar to
Sea Lots. The state was saying to
them here s some modern housing
estates you can move in to and they
said no we don t want to move in
there, we ve established our rela-
tionships, our links, friendships with
neighbours and this is our commu-
nity, we want to stay here.
Were they living in inadequate
They were living in a shanty town.
But they didn t want to leave where
they were living and be split up. So
rather than design low class social
housing, Elemental thought let s
build something more aspirational
and middle class and start off build-
ing part of the home and, later, they
complete their homes.
Are we talking about houses or
medium density blocks?
In this case the design was three-
storey blocks joined together, it s
quite dense but with courtyards in
between and minimum distances
between houses. They started out
with 40 square metres which can
be expanded to 75 square metres.
They would put in the main
structure and services (plumbing
and electric) but they won t finish
things off. So, a window might not
have any windows in it yet, it s got
the roof over so you are in a dry
space and temporarily you could
put a piece of cloth over a window...
So the families go and live in
there and then feedback on what
works and what doesn t so it can
Yes. I found it fascinating as an
alternative model. About three years
ago I was involved in development
in East Port-of-Spain working with
a firm in the States that specialised
in running workshops which we did
extensively with people living within
the community looking at large-
scale maps and the residents show-
ing us good and bad area, where
things work and don t work. And
you could see these people were
hungry for a real community devel-
opment. Sadly nothing came out of
Is it still usable?
I think we should start with pilot
schemes on a smaller local level with
the participation of the people
Continues on Page A34
'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92
Build communities, not just home units
It has been reported that the Housing Development
Corporation's housing waiting list has reached 200,000.
This has thrown up questions about strategies for land usage,
housing design and urban planning in T&T.
In this T&T Guardian series on housing, JOSHUA SURTEES
speaks to architects, planners and surveyors to find out if there
is enough land available, whether everybody on the list can get a
place to live and what kind of accommodation makes best use of
space while providing comfortable, functional living that
complements people's lifestyles. Part One features JENIFER
SMITH, the outgoing president of the T&T Institute of Architects
(TTIA) who is stepping down after her two-year stint. Smith is
the director of her own award-winning architectural firm.
Smith says a "cookie cutter" approach tends to be used when building
local housing developments like this development in south Trinidad.
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