Martins’ Petroglyph Park
at Argyle


Argyle, St. Vincent
Type: Heritage
Concept: Completed
Client: SVG National Trust


Instagram: @gbbdstudio

gbbd was commissioned to design a bench with shading as part of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust-led development of The Martins’ Petroglyph Park at Argyle. gbbd was also commissioned to produce artistic impression drawings of the petroglyphs to guide viewers as to what they might see on the rocks.

The Petroglyphs were in the path of the newly built Argyle airport runway and, as such, were moved to their new location. This gave an opportunity to create an exciting attraction for both Vincentians and visitors within the setting of a park, while ensuring their preservation. The petroglyphs were carved by the Amerindians between 300 BC to 1500 AD, leaving a memory of what may have been their gods, beliefs and everyday concerns. The rock quality has allowed the carvings to be preserved.

The project was about creating a narrative for the park that would open up imaginative ways of engaging with the natural landscape as well as the heritage as part of a rich learning environment. Echoing visions of a bygone house typology, that of the Amerindian huts, the pavilion helps to create a connection with the petroglyphs. The design expands our interpretation of the Amerindian houses and reinforces their place in our memory, emphasizing the importance of heritage.

It was important that both the pavilion and bench meet technically demanding requirements, including robustness for constant public use, resistance to extreme weather and durability, and low maintenance over time. The structural monolith of the pavilion is made of in-situ concrete, partially cantilevered with a tree trunk adding additional structural support. The bench is made of the same materials as the pavilion—concrete and timber-—resting within the language of its simple form.

The cylindrical volume of the pavilion is carved away, opening up and creating a niche for the bench while allowing the views out. The in-situ cast bamboo lining inside of the volume is revealed, reminding us of the materials used to build Amerindian huts. The warm tone of the in-situ concrete reflects the rich soil of St. Vincent. It also makes reference to clay and natural pigments, both used by the ancient Amerindians in pottery and body art. The exterior of the pavilion is intentionally smooth in contrast. Persons may be invited to create their own chalk drawings of the petroglyphs on its surface, telling their own narrative, leaving their own mark. By inviting play and interaction, a dynamic and engaging experience is created. This gives an opportunity to bring children and local artists together, solidifying culture in the community.