Yarditecture: New Walls For Trenchtown
year: 2014
Location: Kingston, Jamaica
advisor: Miho Mazereeuw
description: "The yard" -- the typical housing typology of low-income downtown, Jamaica where multiple households are contained within a surrounding wall. This thesis envelops itself in Trench town, Jamaica, the epicenter of what is known internationally as Jamaican culture, and to reinterpret the "yard" as a viable solution for sustainable urban growth. The housing type stems from historical times of slavery, where the 1744 Act of Jamaica was created in as a means to control slaves within large regions. This dictated that a seven-foot wall was required to be built around 6-9 shanties, leaving one entrance point as the sole access to inside the perimeter. This was intended to be a method of control, but instead became a way of cultural concealment from owners.

Instead of restricting access, the walls of the Jamaican yard acts as a membrane, a negotiator between yards. Thus, this thesis seeks to provide a new intervention for the two blocks of trench town that were destroyed in the 70s, in the forms of infrastructural walls as the essential framework for autonomous informal growth. Instead of traditional holistic social housing plans or site-and-services upgrading, this thesis seeks to provide the in-between--providing walls which enable urban growth via different typologies of walls and their relations to one another. In this way, new density, spatial intent, and overall better living conditions can be informed by providing the minimal resolution of autonomous urban structure--the quintessential wall, to be manipulated and expanded by the needs of the inhabitant.

As a yard, Trench town has undergone several transformations between a formal and informal social/spatial construct, but all the while retaining the yard typology of a surrounding wall. During violence on the streets in the 70s, the government yards' concrete walls have been broken in certain points, allowing a new internalized circulation, and creating a fluid labyrinthine field of not only living, but also a menagerie of working , and recreational spaces within the confines of the walls.

Special Thanks to Maya Shopova, Laura Schmitz, Alex Atwood, and Julian Ocampo.

More images soon.