Hurray!! A report from Dominica News Online.
S.H.A.P.E. (Society for Heritage, Architectural, Preservation and Enhancement), which was formed in the mid 1990’s but was dormant for some time, has been revived.
The organization, which seeks to protect the integrity of Dominica’s culture through respect for its architectural heritage, has a new board headed by Marica Honychurch as President and Michael Lees as Vice-President.
In a release, S.H.A.P.E states that its revival was, in part, a response to the recent demolition of the childhood home of the writer Jean Rhys on the corner of Independence Street and Cork Street, which despite its poor condition remained a fine example of traditional architecture.
“Buildings are part of our story and reflect our history,’ says Marcia Honychurch who took over as President following elections on 25 June 2020. “We hope that as Dominica develops, traditional architecture is incorporated into the new designs to complement our unique architectural heritage.”
Ms. Honychurch is of the view that in the same way that Dominicans value our Creole food, language, song, and dance, S.H.A.P.E. believes in the worth of our built environment and its key role in the economic and social development of Dominica.
“History teaches us that traditional architectural features have served Dominica well in the past and can also be incorporated into our modern structures,” she contends.
S.H.A.P.E. also states in its release, that it hopes to be able to facilitate funding for private owners to preserve their traditional homes, to bring recognition to the importance of historic buildings, such as the Barracoon building, the Public Library, and the Old Market in Roseau, and to try to preserve and restore buildings of historic architectural value.
Another aim of the organization is to preserve vernacular ti-kai homes throughout Dominica and give support to preservation projects.
S.H.A.P.E. maintains that cultural resilience is critical for the survival of present and future generations and believes that with this understanding, Dominica can conserve and enhance its historic buildings and generate income, in the same way as other Caribbean countries have done, such as in the old districts of San Juan and of Havana.
The organization is also encouraging Dominicans to foster pride in craftsmanship, in both the maintenance of the old and the innovation of the new.
Past president Jacqueline Dupigny says S.H.A.P.E. has a good record pointing out that from its inception in the nineties, it did much to bring the message of conservation to the public.
“It was a challenging time but I think that we did reach people—even before the age of social media—with posters, lobbying government and newspaper articles. I think we could say that we influenced some of the new construction in Roseau which is sympathetic to traditional architecture,” Ms. Dupigny maintains.
S.H.A.P.E. says it welcomes new members and supporters and interested persons can contact the organization at: