VIPY revisits the BVI’s contemporary architectural firm

This month, VIPY were glad to reacquaint ourselves with the firm TigerQi Architecture to discuss their progress since their launch in 2013, when we spoke to them last.

Talking to founder of TigerQi Architecture, Lavina Liburd, we enjoyed learning that the company have remained consistent in their original philosophy and approach to architecture—to take a progressive design stance, embracing the simplicity and minimalism of modern aesthetics.

Integral to the TigerQi Architecture ethos, Lavina strives to respect and relate to the regional context and built-environment traditions of the Caribbean. From her website: “Our custom designs grow from a sense of the specific site, intersecting with a focus on climate appropriate strategies, function, and personal experience of space. A project should respond to the history and cultural context of a place without being bound by it. Design should have a sense of fun and lightness, as well as sophistication, elegance, and charm.” This approach to architectural design is often identified by the term Critical Regionalism. Wikipedia notes that, “Critical Regionalism is not simply regionalism in the sense of vernacular architecture. It is a progressive approach to design that seeks to mediate between the global and the local languages of architecture.”

TigerQi Architecture’s service offerings include residential architecture in the form of single family, multi-family, and luxury/resort residential design. For commercial architecture, they design entire buildings as well as providing interior fit-out services, property development consultation, and site/development ​master-planning​.

Significant projects to date include luxury villas in Virgin Gorda, the Brandywine Estate Bayside Residences in Tortola (featured in this issue), JOMA Office Exchange and Projects offices, and the Medicure, Bougainvillea, and Tortola Vision Center branch locations at Tortola Pier Park.

Lavina believes it is incredibly important to always collaborate with a qualified structural engineer familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the BVI and Caribbean context on building projects. To facilitate this important service for those on tight budgets, TigerQi Architecture also offers pre-designed and pre-engineered ‘stock’ plans in an effort to provide a superior product at an affordable price for middle-income families.

The architectural firm will also provide review of design and construction documents to ensure International Building Code compliance.

Lavina’s current areas of research include active natural ventilation systems​ as well as mixed natural ventilation and mechanical air-conditioning systems.

Ms Liburd revealed how vital it is to protect the integrity of the envelope—the physical separator between the interior and exterior of a building—in relation to the BVI’s recent hurricane experience.

“In order to reduce cost and increase flexibility, designers and builders will often use interior materials which are not weather resistant, such as drywall,” said Lavina. “In this case, it’s extremely important that the building envelope is properly designed and constructed to prevent the intrusion of water and wind. A cement board, though more expensive, is preferred to drywall because it adds more weather resistance should the envelope be breached.” 

Lavina continued to explain that windows and doors tested and rated for use in high velocity hurricane zones are essential.

Lavina concluded, “It is definitely possible to build structures in the BVI and the Caribbean region as a whole that can withstand the strongest storms while being elegant and reflective of the hardy, irrepressible Caribbean spirit.” She looks forward to advancing this critical regionalist approach through her work, collaborations, and community service into the foreseeable future.

Lavina Liburd, Architect,
British ​Virgin Islands Mobile:
St.Kitts-Nevis Mobile:
[email protected]

Photography courtesy of TigerQi