Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2014 Contents JOSHUA SURTEES
Surtees: Do we have enough land
space for housing?
Darmanie: Absolutely. Do we have
enough so everyone can have a one
family, three-bedroom home and a
half-acre plot of land? Port-of-
spainsibly. Is it in our best interests?
No. That s kind of what we ve been
doing for as long as I ve known. We
need to rethink what a good home
But why shouldn t people live
the Caribbean "island life" dream?
Darmanie: It s generally believed
that Trinidadians are opport-of-
spained to higher density living. I
understand why, because we haven t
done it right in Trinidad. In other
developed countries where you have
high density housing, it is strategi-
cally placed in walkable urban cen-
tres. So there s a trade-off between
smaller living circles and the con-
venience of being able to walk to the
grocery store, walk to work and these
kinds of things. We don t do that,
we put high density housing out in
the suburbs. So people have the
worst of both worlds, they have the
traffic congestion and lack of ameni-
ties and services and then high den-
sity cramped spaces. We need to
reconsider where we build high den-
So where should it be built?
Darmanie: All along the East-West
corridor there s high density housing
going up all the time. A recent exam-
ple is the one at Victoria Keys,
opport-of-spainite Westmall. Why
couldn t something like that have
been built in the city centre in Port-
of-Spain? It would have made more
sense. Diego Martin s traffic is already
pretty horrendous and you ve put
even more people in to a place that s
suffering from traffic from people
trying to get into the city. Why not
put them in the city?
Is the East-West corridor an
Darmanie: Absolutely. It s a col-
lection of essentially dormitory com-
munities where people just live and
commute to Port-of-Spain on a daily
basis. Most of their children go to
school in Port-of-Spain. So it s really
an unsustainable arrangement.
Is a lot of space wasted?
Darmanie: Absolutely. Port-of-
Spain has so much wasted space.
Anywhere you see a surfaced parking
lot, that s wasted space. A two-storey
building in the heart of Port-of-
Spain, completely wasted space.
Mixed used development---residen-
tial on top of commercial---is the
trend now in most developed coun-
tries, it s where the world is heading
and we just haven t cottoned on to
that yet, I don t know why. It s more
sustainable. You have residents living
above and they can support the retail
activity on the ground floor of the
building. It adds to the vibrancy of
the whole street.
What are some solutions?
Darmanie: We need to stop hous-
ing supply being artificially limited
by standards from the Town and
Country Planning Division that only
allow low-rise buildings in the heart
of the city.
And what places do you see as
models to follow?
Darmanie: There s Mauritius.
Which is an island in the Indian
Ocean. Funnily enough they have a
similar demographic, a lot of mixed
race, African and Indian populations.
Their economy is doing well. They
don t have natural resources like we
do but they have finance and
tourism. And just over a million in
population. But we don t even need
to look at similar islands. We could
follow a place like Washington, DC
where most of the buildings are six
to ten storeys mid-rise buildings
which look good, they re not too
imposing on the streetscape. Pop-
ulation-wise we can just look at
small to mid-size cities in the US
or even the bigger cities, you d be
surprised at the similarities.
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West End hit The Audi-
ence, starring Dame Helen
Mirren as the Queen, is to
transfer to Broadway next
The play, by Frost/Nixon
playwright Peter Morgan,
sees Dame Helen reprise the
role of Queen Elizabeth II,
which she played in the 2006
film The Queen.
The Audience imagines
the private meetings be-
tween the monarch and her
prime ministers over her 60-
year reign. Dame Helen won
the best actress prizes at last
year s Olivier and Evening
Standard awards for the
The play is scheduled to
open March 8 and run until
June 28 at the Gerald
Schoenfeld Theatre in New
York, with Billy Elliot direc-
tor Stephen Daldry once
again on board to direct.
No other members of the
ensemble cast have been an-
It reunites Dame Helen
with Morgan who also
scripted The Queen, which
won her the best actress
Oscar a year later.
She will be seen in Lasse
Hallestrom s upcoming
foodie comedy The Hun-
dred-Foot Journey. (BBC)
Continues on Page A34
Mirren reprises Queen's role on Broadway
Recent reports that the HDC housing waiting list has reached 200,000 have thrown up questions
about strategies for land usage, housing design and urban planning in T&T.
In our 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 Two features RYAN DARMARNIE, an urban planner working for the Ministry of Planning and
Sustainable Development. Darmanie was trained in urban planning at Rutgers University in New
Jersey. He spent a semester in Sydney, Australia where he experienced living in a large, fully
functioning city for the first time. It opened his eyes to the possibilities of architecture and human
like this one, used
Spain, could be
used for mixed
buildings that could
help repopulate and
revitalise the city
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