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Monday, November 24, 2008

Blue Coral, Castries, St. Lucia

Caribbean competition winning design nears completion
The concept design competition for the re-use and regeneration of an existing 1960s three storey building, was won in 2003 by St.Lucia/London based melon|design:architecture, and is nearing completion after a delayed start.

Occupying half a city block in Castries, the design for Blue Coral uses a desire path concept to generate the interior layout with enhanced pedestrian routes naturally flowing through the building, connecting streets outside and maximizing the exposure of goods and services on offer. At the intersection of the pedestrian routes the core of the building is penetrated with the curving form of a new freeform atrium, tapering as it rises through the building. Movement is via glass sided escalators, crisscrossing the atrium as they move from floor to floor, the atrium will bring light into the heart of the building, and will also be used as a passive ventilation device, venting hot air out of the top, drawing cooler air into the building.

The bottom two floors are dedicated to retail, and will include a cafe spilling out into a new landscaped courtyard at street level. A theatre/cinema auditorium, a lounge bar and contemporary arts gallery will be inserted on the third level, whilst above this, a new structure will house a new pavilion restaurant overlooking the Boulevard and the main thoroughfare of Bridge Street. The west facade is articulated with perforated aluminium fins, a modern interpretation of the traditional Caribbean jalousie shutters of the past, allowing light and air into the building whilst protecting from the tropical sun.

Although the design, detail and environmental intent conceived by melon|design:architecture has been watered down in execution by the executive architects, the client anticipates the building will be a unique landmark for Castries, and a significant catalyst for the regeneration of the capital city
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