Brian Lewis of ACLA:WORKS Shares New Directions for Contemporary Caribbean Architects at FCAA Conference in Barbados

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In an audio-visual presentation, Lewis urged Caribbean architects to look more closely at strategic planning and positioning their firms in order to compete effectively in an aggressive market. Since architecture represents enormous financial and human resources, Lewis recommended that Caribbean Architects look more closely at how they present architecture to the public, and suggested the need for good quality architectural photography as an effective means to achieve that objective.


A diagram showing the sustainability features of a project.

” I am already seeing definite signs of a new trend in design which suggests to me that we are at the beginning of a new wave of architecture in the Caribbean, broadly described as a contemporary design movement.

The presentation by Brian Lewis of ACLA:WORKS, a firm specializing in contemporary architecture and interiors based in Trinidad and Tobago, was part of a panel of speakers on the topic of ‘Caribbean Identity and Evolving Aesthetics’. In his 40-year long experience Brian Lewis observed that, with few exceptions, the general public have little understanding of the architectural profession and what architects do. In many of the Caribbean islands there is a strong tradition and history of colonial architecture that provides an established visual reference point.

However, built examples of contemporary architecture are few and far between so the general public is not yet comfortable to know what is well-designed contemporary architecture or poorly designed modern buildings. “I outlined some initiatives that I think are critical to achieving ‘Joy of Architecture’ and some thoughts on how we can go about developing a Caribbean identity and Evolving Contemporary Architecture.” said Lewis.

Presenting contemporary Caribbean architecture is a delicate art that needs to not only seduce its audience but also to portray architecture in a form that appropriately reflects the enormous level of financial and human resources needed to produce better buildings.


Lewis described the nature and scope of a comprehensive marketing plan necessary in today’s competitive marketplace and went on to demonstrate how architectural photography is essential to the strategy and how good quality photography can go a long way in terms of showcasing contemporary architecture.

Today the public can now view architecture in many forms of media; including social media, internet marketing and even more traditional media such as newspapers, brochures, architectural and trade publications and even published books. “It’s not enough to produce good design, although this is important for us architects. It is necessary to present architecture in an appealing way so as to explain good design and its benefits. The public needs to understand what we do and why we do it – well photographed architecture forms the basis for this dialogue”. commented Lewis.

During the course of his research and cataloging buildings within the region Lewis has this to say about emerging trends observed “I am seeing definite signs of a new trend in design which suggests to me that we are at the beginning of a new wave of architecture in the Caribbean, broadly described as a contemporary design movement”

He then went on to explain that he had decided that a well-designed book showing 40-50 fine examples of contemporary architecture would go a long way towards providing the public with a single reference point to see what has been done here in the Caribbean. Lewis then presented a mock-up of a new book he is working on called “Contemporary Caribbean Architecture” that will showcase up to 50 selected projects in the Caribbean and is due to be published in 2015. But the future of contemporary architecture also requires changes by architects themselves, particularly in the processes they use.

Contemporary architecture has become far more complex in the last 20 years and architects also need to keep up to date with rapid developments so as to continue to be relevant and serve their clients with state of the art design. Two critical tools that can help architects produce better buildings are  3D CAD modeling or BIM and  sustainable design.

Describing some of the benefits of using an integrated approach with 3D modeling he summarized the following example “on a small 5,000 square foot building our firm designed using BIM we detected some 1,800 conflicts in the design coordination with other consultants. A significant reduction in design coordination conflicts can yield substantial time and cost saving during construction.”

He went on to demonstrate how sustainable design can be integrated into the design process permitting the architect the ability to simulate various design options so as to yield significant savings in energy costs and reductions in carbon footprint.

In summary the lecture outlined how architects can position their firms to meet a competitive regional challenge by presenting contemporary architecture using professional architectural photography. Lewis encouraged architects to include their work in a book on Contemporary Caribbean Architecture and invited architects with projects in the Leeward Islands to submit examples of suitable projects before the end of November 2012.

The presentation by Brian Lewis of ACLA:WORKS based in Trinidad and Tobago was part of a panel of speakers on the topic of ‘Caribbean Identity and Evolving Aesthetics’ together with other speakers Trevor Bullen of COCOA in Grenada, Marc Jalet of the Agency of Architecture in Guadeloupe and Urbanism and Ronny Lobo of Atelier Lobo & Raymann in Curacao.

About Brian Lewis

Brian Lewis is a director of ACLA:WORKS a contemporary architecture and interiors firm established since 1944 and based in Trinidad and Tobago with registered branch offices in Barbados and St. Lucia.


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This press release was prepared by Bobrow Consulting Group (BCG – for ACLA:WORKS.  BCG works with building design professionals to build their business by optimizing their online strategy, teaching marketing for architecture firms as well as offering web design and SEO consulting services.

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