A study on the history, restoration and repurposing of Casa Blanca in Moengo
This thesis, A study in building history and restoration and adaptive reuse of Casa Blanca in the staff village of Moengo, is a study of the building Casa Blanca within the Faculty of Design Sciences at the University of Antwerp. In this study the building history and restoration is discussed, in order to present several adaptive reuse options for Casa Blanca. Casa Blanca is situated in the village of Moengo in Suriname. Moengo finds its origin in the discovery of high quality bauxite. The American company Alcoa started the Suriname Bauxite Company in 1916 and started with the building of Moengo. Labourer’s cottages, factory buildings, an office, a warehouse and a laboratory and the director’s residence arose. The staff village was part of this project and was initially built by North American staff members and later on also by Dutch. Casa Blanca is part of the staff village and was originally built as director’s residence between 1925 and 1927. The building style of this director’s residence is a combination of American influences of the Beaux-Arts classicism, Art Deco and Suriname architecture. In 1957 there was an important functional change and Casa Blanca changes from director’s residence to local community centre.
Casa Blanca should be designated as a monument because of the importance of the history of the country, its specific architecture which is unique in Suriname and its value for urban architecture. Hopefully, the designation of Casa Blanca as a monument involves a better maintenance plan in the future. There are namely two causes why Casa Blanca is the way it is now: overdue maintenance and the building has no destination. These two are certainly related. Because Casa Blanca has no destination, there has been no maintenance for some time. In both cases this leads to an even quicker deterioration of the state of the building. It is therefore necessary that Casa Blanca is renovated and gets a new function. The vacancy of Casa Blanca is also caused by the fact that Suralco completely left Moengo in 2015 as a result of which there is a lot of unemployment and buildings have been 11 left unoccupied. Recently (July 2017) the staff village has been transferred to the government of Suriname. The adaptive reuse of Casa Blanca is all the more necessary and for that reason it was tried through workshops, the adaptive reuse method and other initiatives to develop three adaptive reuse options for Casa Blanca. As adaptive reuse is not a solitary issue, these four proposals are based on possible developments in the environment:
A. What if the project “Moengo Science Park” is carried out? What role can Casa Blanca play in this?
B. What if Casa Blanca becomes a youth centre?
C. What if Casa Blanca serves as a satellite for the Kibii Foundation and Tembe Art Sudio?
D. What if Moengo becomes a tourist attraction? What role can Casa Blanca play in this?