Designing a state-of-the-art, iconic, and impressive edifice takes time, effort, and a certain dedication to detail that is hard to come by, except that the National Flower Team - an odd name to give a high-powered group of architects and designers - has brought all of that under one eminently breathtaking design of a new Parliament building aptly called 'National Flower'. The team is one of five finalists in the Houses of Parliament Design Competition.
At first glance, it's a design that not only captivates, but traps the onlooker, making one want to stare at its unusual outlay.
Team leader Stephen Facey explained that the concept came together through the hard work of team members Hugh Dutton, Laura Facey, Dr Patricia Green, Dr Jenna Blackwood, and a supporting ensemble of students from the Caribbean School of Architecture.
"When the prime minister (Andrew Holness) and the Government announced that they were going to host a competition for the Houses of Parliament, I thought this was an opportunity that I could not miss. It is a unique opportunity for an architect, and I started to think about how I could participate," said Facey.
"So I set about bringing together a team of people who I thought would bring the requisite expertise, talent, love, and passion that would come up with a winning solution, and I turned to my friend Hugh Dutton."
Dutton, the team's design leader, grew up in St Mary and understood what it meant to be Jamaican.
Through a systematic approach, the National Flower Team sought national symbols to infuse into their designs. The Lignum Vitae flower stuck.
The roof of their design is like the petal from the Lignum Vitae tree. It screams stateliness and beauty in simplicity while remaining a complex design.
"Why the symbol? Why the flower? It is very important to say it is an abstract flower. It is a symbol of Jamaica. It's also the country's hills, its mountains and its environment," said Hugh Dutton.
"It's not about the pomp and ceremony for me, but it's about telling what the real story of what Jamaican is. Our design is a natural reference, having connected all of this together."
He said that the team took days questioning themselves about how to put a functional Parliament building in the middle of National Heroes Park, a space that belongs to the neighbourhood.
"We did not want to cut the park in two with our design. We instead wanted to revive the park and give it back to the people to make it an agreeable place to be, so we oriented to the west side (Torrington Road), leaving ample space for the people," reasoned Dutton.
"It's a building that's about the environment because Jamaica is about the environment. I think it's the strongest message Jamaica can send - that as a country we care about the environment."
Though inspired by nature, National Flower Team's design of the new Parliament building carries with it all the modern functionalities of a modern Parliament.
"The building will include a library, a dedicated media area, a museum and the two main chambers, offices for the parliamentarians, and landscaped areas for the public to enjoy. So it was very very complex, and how we connected this together was the biggest challenge for us," Green explained.
"It is as much a sculpture as it is a building," said Laura Facey, reasoning that a flower in the park made good sense.
The spatial planning is inspired by the idea of transparency of the government functions to the public as well as critical functionality and ceremonial formality.
The team said that this proposal of a park design evokes the notion of "Land of Wood and Water", bringing fundamental Jamaican character and activities and making room for music, athletics, and art. All spaces radiate around a central lobby, consistent with the philosophy of Jamaica's motto.
The plan shows that the pavilion comprises first the Representative and Senate chambers, each one independent of the other. There are other pavilions for administration, staff, security, and the museum, a gymnasium, restaurant, and daycare.
National Flower Team's design has two main entrances: an urban entrance opposite Torrington Road and a park entrance opposite the landscaped space.
"It's just a beautiful design that we are proud of and the one I believe the public will endorse as the design for their Parliament," Stephen Facey said with confidence.
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