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In responding to a curiosity around the potential of architecture as register, the research exercise sites this curiosity in the exploration of the culture of making and building in, around and in association with water.

It chooses the Ndjuka Maroons of Suriname and their relationship with the Tapanahoni River, as the starting point of the research and the site of focus for the investigation of a particular culture of environment shaping.

The research looks to being structured through three phases:

  1. Assimilation through field research, of the relationship between the river locale of Ndyuka Maroons (as a resource and an environment), and their specific culture of making and shaping their built ecology.
  2. Devising an architectural proposition as both a record and a reading of the field research, but where the Dutch culture of land/water management (the Dutch Polder), is appropriated as the backdrop or counter-frame for this architectural proposition.
  3. Re-articulation of a component, insight or facet of that architectural proposition for testing/ relocation in Suriname; intended as a possible contribution to the sustainability and evolution of Suriname's Maroon culture.

The field research has started through the recording of in-depth interviews with selected persons of Maroon heritage. This will form one aspect of the content of a website which is being developed to share and present the research experience.

Text: Sean Leonard, November 2020.

Tilting Axis Fellowship

In Fall 2019, Het Nieuwe Instituut joined forces with Tilting Axis to offer a Fellowship to one mid-career or established applicant based in the Caribbean. Trinidadian architect, Sean Leonard has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Tilting Axis / Het Nieuwe Instituut Fellowship.