Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Degree Level





Herman, Greg

Committee Member/Reader

Goodstein-Murphree, Ethel

Committee Member/Second Reader

Kerrigan, Dylan


Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi stated, "Remember that no other memory remains of us than the walls which after hundreds of thousands of years bear witness to him who was their author." Brunelleschi's statement alludes to architecture's ability to encapsulate the spirit of its time and people, allowing it to transcend time, and be translated to future generations. Fascinated by this ability of architecture, this thesis investigates the relationship between the evolution of a particular architectural typology and the changing socio-political climate of its context. To illustrate this theme it presents a social history of the evolution of the single-family house in Trinidad, as the pluralistic society evolves out of Colonialism plagued by issues of class status, identity formation, and need for differentiation. This thesis focuses on the history of Trinidad from 1900 to 2012 and divides it into four periods, each marked by a major socio-political shift. For each period the thesis discusses the emergence of a new elite group brought about the socio-political shift. It then investigates the need of each new elite group to affirm their status, and their associated vision of an ideal visual representation of status that is reflected in their houses. It discusses the use of the house as a vessel through which to negotiate one's identity and place in society, and simultaneously reflect this status to the world. The thesis begins with the development of Colonialism and a class system in the island. It then transitions into a discussion of the emergence of French Creole coloreds as a capital holding group due to their success in the cocoa industry at the beginning of the twentieth century; looking at the grand houses they built to attest this success. This is followed by an investigation of the effect anti-colonialist sentiments had on the design of residential architecture leading up to Independence and the major shift in residential design after Independence. The thesis then concludes in contemporary Trinidad and discusses the residential production of East Indians, a once marginalized, but now capital holding major group, illustrating the recurring theme of the need of newly elevated groups to affirm their status in their houses.


Trinidad, facade design, identity, architecture