In 1949 Anthony C Lewis was asked by the Catholic Archbishop to design a church for Maraval. Lewis wanted to design something really ground-breaking. The churches in Trinidad were all based on the cruciform plan, popular in Europe and America. These designs were not conducive to the West Indian climate and uncomfortable for the congregation. He also wanted to design a building that would make his work stand out. It is rare for an architect to have complete control of any project or not make compromise. He felt that he had the freedom to create in a way that he had never experienced before.
Lewis had visited the site prior to making his offer and already had several ideas in mind. The land was bordered by trees, with a pink poui dominating. It was an opportunity for Lewis to incorporate the theories and philosophies he had learnt from the work of Van de Roche and Wright. Lewis used natural pink, blue and yellow sandstone to reflect the colours of the poui. He designed with natural materials in mind, indigenous limestone and greenheart timber with natural lighting. The Church of Assumption did not follow the traditional cruciform designs and uses a non-traditional orientation to provide soft filtered light and good cross-ventilation for the early morning celebration of mass. During the construction, Father Connolly, the parish priest overseeing the project on behalf of the church, was heavily criticised for allowing a design that appeared more like an aeroplane hangar than a church. The criticisms were unfounded, however, as the resulting church is one of the finest examples of modern architecture in Trinidad.
Oscar Niemeyer, a famous Brazilian architect, came all the way to Trinidad to see the church. The sight of the revolutionary design brought tears to his eyes, a validation that Lewis could only ever have dreamed of.
Other Known Name: Church of the Assumption
Address: Long Circular Road
Region: Port of Spain
Site Type: Cultural Heritage
Site Features: Places of Worship
Long Circular Road, Maraval, Port of Spain