JIS News

The Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) will be moving to prepare the technical plans and seek the necessary approvals for the proposed Luana Gardens housing development in St. Elizabeth, following the recent selection of a design of the project.
After a three-month long competition, staged between December 1, 2008 and March 30 this year, the design submitted by Kingston 10 Architects Limited and Clifton Yap Architects, was chosen to guide the development, which entails upwards of 850 housing solutions.
Ground for the project, to be undertaken by the Ministry of Water and Housing, is expected to be broken towards the end of the current fiscal year, informed HAJ Managing Director, Joseph Shoucair, at today’s (May 4) presentation ceremony held at the HAJ’s head office at Caledonia Avenue in Kingston.
The design, which won for Kingston 10 Architects a US$45,000 cash prize, along with the 16 other entries submitted, are now on display at a week-long exhibition, which opened during today’s function.
With the design selected, “the agency’s technical personnel will now move rapidly to prepare the engineering designs for the project, and seek the necessary regulatory approvals. Thereafter, a suitable contractor will be selected, (for) the work (to) commence,” Mr. Shoucair said.
“Our anticipation is that ground will be broken for the project towards the end of the (2009/10) fiscal year. We hope (the project) will be emulated by other developers, so that we can improve the built environment in this island,” he added.
The Luana Gardens project comprises starter units, one and two-bedroom houses, and serviced lots, and includes commercial, civic, and social facilities. It will be sited on lands in South East St. Elizabeth adjoining HAJ’s existing phases one, two, and three developments at Luana.

Chairman of the Board of the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), David Chung (right), presents the winning cheque for US$45,000 in the HAJ’s Luana Gardens design competition to Managing Director of Clifton Yap Architects, Clifton Yap, and Managing Director of Kingston 10 Architects Limited, Ann Hodges, during the presentation ceremony and exhibition opening at the HAJ’s offices in Kingston on Monday (May 4). The 17 entries submitted for the competition are currently on display at the HAJ until Friday, May 8.

Mr. Shoucair said that the development is environmentally friendly and compatible with the existing local community and it is “anticipated that the civic and social facilities at Luana Gardens, will also be available to residents of these other communities.”
According to Mr. Shoucair, the Luana project is in keeping with the agency’s mission to provide “viable and affordable new housing developments”, as well as the “upgrading and regularisation of the island’s innumerable informal or squatter settlements.”
“It is only when we can provide affordable housing for those at the lower income levels, (that) the squatter phenomenon (will) be controlled,” he argued.
Technical Director in the Ministry of Water and Housing, Heather Pinnock, who chaired the competition’s selection panel, said the three main areas of focus in the assessments were: master plan activities, elements, and components; best practices in housing design and concept; and sub-division, planning, and infrastructure outline.
“The quality of the presentations were quite impressive… and our team was pleased with the variety and creativity presented. It was evident … that a lot of detailed research and site investigation was undertaken. The top three were very good presentations,” she added.
Second place went to Interplan Planning Consultants, which received a prize of US$15,000, while Marvin Goodman and Associates, placed third, picking up US$10,000.
Water and Housing Minister Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, in a brief message read by Ms. Pinnock, noted that the Luana Gardens development is the first of a series of new projects being implemented under the National Housing Programme.
He stated that the HAJ, which has been reorganised and refocussed, is now well positioned to achieve its mission to “plan and execute new and profitable housing for all the people of Jamaica.”
The 17 entries will remain on display at the HAJ’s offices until Friday, May 8.