Fifty-five years of independence, but no national house: Gordon House, the former administrative center of a colonial power, has served as Jamaica’s parliament since independence. Gordon House is an office building, not a national assembly, but soon a new Jamaican Parliament will rise to meet the people’s aspirations and set a vision for Jamaica’s future. It will be open and transparent—a place to gather and celebrate as much as to debate and deliberate. It will embody and enable diversity of origin, thought, and expression; it will be a symbol of Jamaica’s optimism and ambition: a new flag for a new millennium.
Our design proposal for the interiors of the Jamaican Houses of Parliament capitalizes on the ever-present breezes, tree groves, and sloping landscapes of Kingston by emphasizing sun, shade, shelter, and permeability, as well as celebrating the colors and shape of the Jamaican flag: gold for the sun, the green of the land, and black for the strength of the Jamaican people. When viewed in plan, the bold, black “X” formed by the lobby’s grand staircases combines with natural sunlight and a green ‘living wall’ to embody a vision of the flag in the interior architecture. Indoor trees are essential to the concept; woven throughout tile or travertine floors, they welcome Jamaica’s unmatchable landscapes indoors. The free form of the reception desk is wood-crafted; it emphasizes the main color palette while also supporting public engagement. Behind the desk, a mosaic tile installation showcases the pride of Jamaican art.
Out of many . . . one: Our lobby design for the Jamaican Parliament is a contemporary vision of civic engagement. Similarly, our interiors proposal for the parliamentary chambers creates a grandeur that will inspire visitors, bureaucrats, and politicians alike. The house chamber is circular to support values of stability, inclusion, and equality. (We propose a similar design for the senate with a dynamic oval plan.) Our design blends heritage symbols, such as the Jamaican seal on the floor, with natural materials to celebrate both the history of Jamaica and the country’s momentum as a growing, sustainable economy on the world stage. To coordinate with the lobby and further emphasize participatory democracy, the chamber features comfortable, fresh, and functional green chairs. Hexagonal lighting symbolizes the many facets of the Jamaican people. The natural wood finishes of the floors, ceiling, and walls provide a dynamic, yet stately vertical texture and also acoustical properties; this carries through from the lobby to create a sense of warmth and collegiality while showcasing local and sustainable Jamaican materials. Together, this equitable design fosters peace, order, and resiliency, with honor and respect for Jamaica’s heritage and for future generations.
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