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Preserve architectural history

From left: Panellists Stanley Sneed, Senator Professor Henry Fraser and Dr. Karl Watson share a moment after the opening ceremony.

Even as an architectural historian has once again cried out at the loss of some of the island’s stunning masterpieces, a photographer was challenging regional architects to consider mapping to preserve the architectural history of their respective islands.

Addressing the Federation of Caribbean Associations of Architects 8th Biennial Barbados Conference at the Hilton Barbados this morning, Senator Professor Henry Fraser, while hailing Glendairy Prisons as having one of the greatest architectural designs in the island, shuddered at how many equally good designs were being lost to abandonment and decay.

He told a gathering of architects from around the region, that Barbados in particular had become known for what was now called Caribbean Georgian architecture, and the influence was still strongly seen across the country.

The Empire Theatre, influenced he said by Edwardian architecture, was another building he termed the seventh most amazing abandoned building in the City. He noted there were quite a few that had been commercial properties that were now abandoned and falling apart.

It was history like this, St. Croix photographer Stanley Sneed, would later point out, that mapping in 3D could help preserve.

The man, who has taken to mapping some of his country’s landmarks and uploading digitally rendered 3D copies to Google Earth, said he believed it could not only serve as a way to preserve the historical architecture of the region which is being lost, but also as a tourism tool.

Sneed, who is qualified in systems design and implementation and information technology, said as someone who had no experience in architecture, he had found the work rewarding and believed those trained in the field could do even better.

“You heard it from some of the other speakers that all of the buildings are being crushed and torn down because they have become to some people, eyesores, or they don’t meet their financial objective. You are going to have that, that’s progress; but while you are progressing, snatch up some of that history so your descendents will begin to understand,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“We all have the old photographs, the old photographs are nice, but if you have a 3D replica of your town circa 1972 that you can walk through and see and feel, when you talk about restoring those balconies along that street people begin to understand because they can see and feel.” He said it was also the kind of project that young people, with the exploding interest in Internet and technology, could hold onto and make their own.

“I am not one to go and approach Government first because Government serves us. Once we have got something that is exciting to the residents, tourism can’t help but come to us and say hey, I want to use that, and that is why I say tourism professionals should explore what the locals have done.” (LB)

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