• Tourism, Tropicalization and the Architectural Image
    Dahlia Nduom

“Montego Beach Hotel,” ca. 1953. Postcard, 3.5 x 5.5 in. Courtesy Dahlia Nduom collection

Using Jamaica as a case study, this project explores the legacy of colonial and tourism consumption which has contributed to the narrative of an “exotic” tropical paradise. This narrative has developed through centuries of construction and dissemination of images to advance political, sociocultural, and economic goals. This project examines the role of architecture in this constructed narrative by analyzing images from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries crafted to remove associations of death, disease, and the horrors of slavery by promoting the Caribbean picturesque. The research also investigates architectural signifiers of the tropical narrative, which have persisted in photographs, postcards, and advertisements, during the twentieth century development of tourism.This project documents architectural tropes and their proliferation in tourist spaces often constructed with concern for the tourist gaze. The project juxtaposes the documentation of these tropes with an analysis of the nuanced architectural vocabulary of Jamaica to understand where schisms occur.

Dahlia Nduom is an assistant professor in the department of architecture at Howard University. She received a bachelor’s in architecture and visual studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an MArch degree from Columbia University. As a licensed architect, her experience spans the United States and Ghana, previously working with Stan Allen Architect, PKSB Architects, and Adjaye Associates (Ghana) before starting Dahlia Nduom Design. She has also held teaching positions at Columbia University and Ashesi University in Ghana. Her work investigates the relationship between history, culture, and perception and their impact on the architecture of the African Diaspora. She received the National Organization of Minority Architects, Honor Award: Unbuilt Category in 2017, and her work was recently on display in the New Blood 2021 exhibition at the ArchiAfrika Pavilion in the European Cultural Centre's Time Space Existence exhibition in Venice alongside the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.