In the exclusive Trincity neighbourhood of Millennium Lakes, exquisite homes and incredible architecture are par for the course. Trinidad architect Nigel Ali, in his trademark relentless passion for his craft, has left his mark on this development with the design of an ultra-modern home that comprises a staggering melding of construction materials and finishes. The phenomenal home’s design inspires even the most casual observer with its rare blend of textures.
“My client’s desire was for an ultra-modern style with the specific request that it must be so outstanding, it would rise above all other similar homes and blow people’s minds,” says Nigel. “This I achieved by doing what I do best—combining my passion and dedication with a ‘thinking outside of the box’ approach.” The home is a feast for the eyes from the moment one approaches. There is much to take in from the exterior and one must simply pause to observe the intricacies of the way the home comes together. White stucco dominates the exterior, lending itself beautifully to the clean lines of the modern design. The lustre of this finish is balanced by stone cladding, green lower roof slabs, glass pyramid-shaped skylights peeking out from the upper roof slabs, and perhaps the most impressive piece of the design—a large, neutral-toned two-storey exterior curved wall that’s permeated with stained-glass inserts.
“The entire building structure was constructed using the Therml-Impac Building System by TIAHCO,” says Nigel. “This is a three-dimensional, high-tensile steel cage with an expanded polystyrene infill core. In addition to providing extensive thermal insulation properties and spectacular resistance to both hurricanes and earthquakes, the flexibility of this material allowed me to form shapes that would be difficult and costly using conventional construction methods.”
Inside the home, Nigel incorporated a water feature underneath the home’s spectacular glass and steel staircase; the combination of the two is a stand-out work of art. The interior water feature interacts in a sensational dance with the colours from the curved exterior wall’s stained-glass windows, welcomed inside by an impressive two-storey glass wall. The upper level corridor area’s glass floors further open up the entryway, bathing the foyer in a wealth of natural light that highlights the home’s other modern finishes, including porcelain and bamboo floors and marble and timber-panelled wall areas. “The house as a whole is unique from any angle one looks at it,” says Nigel. “This home just stands out.”
The Trincity home’s meticulous harmonising of details and finishes is an unmistakable example of Nigel Ali’s tireless love for his profession. From the time he was young, he took pleasure in drawing, building with toy blocks, assembling model cars and aeroplanes, and carving with his pen-knife.
“It was when I walked into the General Draftsmanship Department and saw all the drawing tables and instruments that something clicked, and I decided to give it a try,” Nigel recalls. “Well, that was it—I took to drafting like a duck to water and I loved every moment of it. I purchased my first set of STAEDTLER Mars instruments around that time, and I still use them up to this day.” During the on-the-job training periods of the two-year course, Nigel’s love for drawing deepened as he was exposed to a wide scope of work at structural, civil, and mechanical engineering firms, and at Trinidad’s oil company Petrotrin, where he worked on mapping out oil wells in the country’s oil fields.
Nigel graduated and went on to secure a job with one of Trinidad’s top architects at the time, Barry Franceschi, who encouraged Nigel to further develop his natural gift for architecture by studying abroad. This took him to the University of Miami’s School of Architecture in 1984 where he thrived under the encouragement of his beloved professor, Joseph Middlebrooks, and ascended to become one of the top three students in his design classes.
Sadly, Nigel fell victim to Trinidad’s devaluations in the 1980s and he was unable to finish his degree. By this point, however, Nigel’s passion had been ignited, and there could be no stopping him from pursuing a career in architecture, upon his return home in 1988. He began to build up a massive collection of architecture books and continued his education at home on his own, through continuous research and hands-on experience in construction of intricate details at his projects’ job sites. Professor Middlebrooks’s words were never far from the forefront of Nigel’s mind: “If you can draw it, you must be able to build it,” he’d told Nigel. “Having my office at home allowed me to dedicate myself to my work, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and up to this day, 30 years later, I still maintain that status,” Nigel says.
This full-bore dedication that Nigel has maintained throughout his career is evident in his fastidious designs. Much like the young Nigel who found joy in arranging his toy blocks just so, the architect takes great pride in seeing his designs take shape, regardless of size or scope. Whether 1,200-square-foot homes or 24,000-square-foot mansions and beyond, Nigel finds satisfaction in all of his projects. “The most enjoyable part of what I do is the satisfaction I experience upon seeing my clients’ happiness at their dreams coming to life,” he says. “Applying my attention to detail to even the smallest facets of their wish list and beyond is a true joy.”
Nigel A. Ali | Architect
42 Greenvale Avenue, Valsayn North, Trinidad
T 1 868 662 0466