Josh fowler here,
Today I would like to discuss part of my most recent trip to the Dominican Republic and speak specifically about the architecture and the architectural experiences I encountered. This alien architectural journey began as soon as the plane landed and made its way to the terminal. From my window a beautiful thatched roof rolled into view,
already gracing the horizon with a Dominican vernacular. Below this magnificent roof was a series of natural wood and steel columns supporting, seemingly, only the roof itself, as there where very few walls and most of the building was entirely open giving the building a sense of airiness and lightness unmatched by almost any other architecture I have ever seen. As the bus carrying us drew further from the tarmac and closer to the entrance, the architecture began to reveal its internal details to me. Once underneath the grand roof, I could not help but become entranced by the zeitgeist of the architecture.
Stunning natural wood columns complimented by strong sturdy steel columns rose up to bifurcate into a glorious lattice of angular supports. These supports, both metal and wood, rose and married with other supports creating a splendid framework for the various scales of purlins and woodwork that support the thatch-work skin. This aesthetic paying homage to the architecture commonly found in the Dominican Republic at an earlier time. And this was only the very first building I had encountered in the eye-opening country of the Dominican Republic. From the airport, my group piled onto a coach bus that would service us for the rest of the trip. It was roughly a three hour drive through the country to the city of Santo Domingo. While on this country ride, I was graced with the wonderful palette of greens and yellows of the landscape and, although few, the wildly colorful buildings and structures, some almost seeming to have been lost in time.
We finally made it to Santo Domingo that same night and experienced the typical night life and urban landscape Santo Domingo had to offer.
We ate a late dinner at a popular restaurant and then promptly headed to our hotel through the very narrow and winding streets. Whether the streets where a byproduct of the transportation mentality or the other way around, I did not know but traffic was very different and much less regulated in the country as a whole as compared to in the states. We were woken the following morning by the wonderful sounds of shouts and car alarms. After breakfast we were led on a walking tour of Santo Domingo by a proud and sarcastic Santo Domingo native. The shouts of "Peoples peoples!" and "Informations informations!" directing us to where we needed to be. The new world's first monastery,
the new world's first building, which became the new world's first hospital,
the new world's first catholic church.
The use of coral as a construction material was a fascinating notion and after studying such building techniques in the global history class I am also currently taking, it was interesting to the see firsthand the results and the use.
As the traffic in the major cities of the DR was chaotic to say the least, our group witnessed the DR way of moving pedestrians around in major cities. They are lofted into the air to walk over many intersections and roads via grand pedestrian bridges in order to carry on with their daily activities.
From Santo Domingo, we traveled on to the location of Jarabacoa in the mountains. The mountains are, as our tour guide deemed them, the "breadbasket" of the Dominican Republic. This is where much of the agriculture happens and where we would be working for most of the trip. This was where I was able to practice my knowledge of architecture and construction in helping with the construction of a scenic overlook,
trusses for a new visitors center,
and a French-drain-esk drainage system for part of a trail.
As this is only part uno of this two-part post, I shall leave you here and pick this back up again later to regale you with the rest of the architectural experiences I encountered on this trip. Until next time…