Restoring Harrismith House . . .
Many of the 19th century and early 20th century buildings in Barbados still possess most of their exterior beauty. For those which are left as empty shells, engineers, architects, as well
as interior designers, can work together to restore what exist and to impose new designs that complement the buildings.
A building such as Harrismith House has the potential to become a small hotel and restaurant. The angles of its hipped roof and the multitude of arches provide a basis for a courtyard-inspired addition. The addition could house the restaurant, providing locals and tourists with a modern coastal dining experience.
The existing building, constructed by the Taylors in 1920, can be restored and transformed into a place for people to come and experience living in a historic place while enjoying the elements of the seaside.
When the existing building is being restored, details such as the hoods above the windows could be reproduced. The main entrance to both the hotel and the restaurant would
be through the existing Harrismith building.
A reception, Wi-Fi zone and convenient corner can all be located on the first floor, while the rooms for the hotel would be shared between the second floor of the existing building
and part of the new addition.
The addition can reference the style of the early 20th century building by keeping the same forms and reproducing them, using modern materials. This would help to provide something new that doesn’t impose on what is old.
A copper-clad structure would mesh into the colours of the ocean over time as oxidation occurs, and the layers of glass and metal would create rich texture and reflective qualities. As only part of the second floor would be occupied by rooms, the restaurant would have a double-height ceiling, allowing light to penetrate the above windows, giving the space a courtyard-like feel.
The restaurant would act as a hub for visitors and locals to gather and exchange cultures. Whether it is over a meal, or an evening drink, all would enjoy the view of the seaside, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a whale peeking above the ocean’s surface.
Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.
–– Jane Jacobs.
(Zoe Osborne is a student of Ryerson School of Interior Design in Toronto. References from Historic Houses Of Barbados by Henry Fraser and Ronnie Hughes.)