Inquiry on a resilient future for one of the first working-class neighbourhoods of Paramaribo city
Frimangron (‘land of the free man’), is a neighbourhood adjacent to the historic city centre of Paramaribo that was developed around the end of the 18th century. Frimangron is characterized by many small-scale colonial houses, constructed out of traditional woodwork originating from the shipbuilding industry. The cabins contain several typical elements: elevated ground floors, symmetrical positioning of windows and doors, pitched roofs, double doors and an outdoor kitchen. Often one plot is occupied by several houses. The space between the houses is where life takes place, these spaces are linked by informal paths that connect plots and their inhabitants.
The arrival of international television, internet and the rapid rise of car ownership affected the ideal image of housing and therefore also the outlook of buildings and streetscapes. More stone buildings on fenced plots appear, cars are filling the streets and personal security is chosen over social control. The characteristics of living in Frimangron are changing and even though people recognize the heritage value of the wooden houses, they are often related to poverty and stagnation.
Secondly, also the location of Frimangron adjacent to the city centre of Paramaribo is acting upon life. The building plots attract foreign industries that wish to settle near the heart of the city. The prices of land have therefore risen rapidly in recent years, pushing away residents. Retail and office buildings are engulfing the area, treating the plots differently and breaking down the informal paths and collective spaces between the houses. Due to a lack of rules or building restrictions a five-storey casino can settle beside a housing plot.
The analysis is completed with a design proposal. The proposal consists out of qualitative low-cost houses that are transformable, modular and prefabricated. Under the eaves the tilt windows create sufficient airflow through the house. By placing the house on high plinth blocks, the house captures more wind. This creates a natural airflow that keeps the dwelling cool. A doubled roof with wide overhang provides extra protection against the heat of the sun.