Paths and places

The most glorious quality of Caribbean architecture generally and Jamaican architecture in particular, resides in the relationship of the building to the continuously inhabited environment: the endless warp and woof of paths and places. Homeliness is determined by an outdoor domesticity. Not long ago I drove past a lady admonishing her two school-bound children while she sat on a well-worn stone underneath a majestic mango tree. The house was no more than a treasure chest with a bed. But her home, of which the house was only a part, was grand and open. This outdoor domesticity transforms the house, it places the building at the periphery of a much larger and more generous domestic setting. That is a luxury of climate. It determines the relationship between the inside and the outside of the building, the grouping of dwellings into communities at various scales. These are physical characteristics that do not fit into the conventional parameters of architectural style and yet they constitute what defines much of Jamaican building.