Tag Archives: Norman and Dawbarn

New Research:Suzanne Francis-Brown & Peter Francis Norman & Dawbarn, the UCWI, and Tropical Modernist Architecture in Jamaica” in Caribbean Quarterly, 65:1, 27-56, DOI: 10.1080/00086495.2019.1565219

The University College of the West Indies (UCWI) At Mona, Jamaica, established immediately following World War II, was one of the early greenfield university developments among British colonies in the Southern Hemisphere, as the British sought to ameliorate patently negative social conditions.


UCWI Designed by Norman and Dawbarn. Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives at University of Liverpool

It was also one of the early tropical iterations of the modernist aesthetic that affected European landscapes from the early to middle decades of the twentieth century, sparked by the Bauhaus school of design and the work of iconic architects of the modern movement. British architectural firm Norman & Dawbarn received the contract to design the nascent West Indian university and its associated teaching hospital only weeks after the arrival of the first principal on site in Jamaica in 1946, and the overall scheme proposed in 1947, parts of which were built in stages between 1949 and the mid-1960s, remains recognisable today despite differences at the time and subsequent shifts in architectural approach.

Full Paper here:

Good bye Kumasi, Accra, Ghana….

We revisited the Manhyia Palace archives and made notes on the relevant documents to be consulted before dashing off to board the local propeller plane back to Accra. Gazing at the dusty spread of Kumasi – we wondered whether the current airport terminal was adjacent to the original Norman and Dawburn small airport project designed in the 1950s? Suggestions of an earlier architectural history seemed to be revealed in the present day profiles of the domestic airport buildings viewed as we taxied down the empty runway for takeoff.


‘Tropical Modernism’ on the 10GHC note, The Bank of Ghana in Accra

Accra was in the grips of a major traffic jam, cooler and drier than Kumasi, it proved overbearingly hot to spend more than half an hour getting from the airport to Jamestown to see the exhibition of the Delft-Accra, urban transformation collaboration project we visited on our arrival in Ghana. We met a transformed space and were given a tour by curator and ArchiAfrika member Joe Addo. Joe also spoke of his further plans for the activation of various parts of the Jamestown neighbourhood. A further visit to the National Museum offices, and another slow trip on Accra’s congested highway to the international airport concluded the trip, with Ghana’s independence day holidays over the weekend we weren’t the only ones heading out of town.

Our project continues; the Ghanaian team (Prof. Rexford Assasie Oppong and Irene Appeaning Addo) will begin planning their research trip to the UK in the autumn, and we have considerable sources to continue consulting in the meantime.