Innovation is often born out of necessity and Jamal Chambers, future architect, writer and owner of Paradigm Publishing Limited, saw an opportunity to turn his post-graduate dissertation into his first book, ‘A Visual Analysis of Reggae Culture: An analysis of the authenticity of the places and spaces that make reggae culture’.
Chambers, who aspires to be the ‘go to’ architect when it comes to designing cultural spaces in Jamaica, published his first book on February 28, right in time to coincide with the celebration of Reggae Month.
In an interview with Our Today, Chambers, graduate of the Master’s in Architecture programme from the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), shared, “I wrote my dissertation in 2020 and the book is a development of that. While writing it, someone mentioned that my dissertation could be published as an official book and I thought that was interesting. However, there was no one available or willing to do that.”
“I wish that my classmates and I were approached by a publishing company someone who said, ‘hey guys I’m from a publishing company and we’d like to help you to get your work out.’ However, that didn’t happen and so, because I wanted to publish, I had to do it myself. In that same breath, I created my publishing company publishing. It has turned out to be the kind that I wish existed with the desire to publish the work of my classmates and I,” he added.
Established in October 2022, Paradigm Publishing Limited has plans to work with post-graduate students who wish to have their research and written bodies of work published. Chambers shared that the business has turned into a family operated business as his mother and aunt play crucial roles in its operations. They were also integral in helping him create his first book and launching it just in time for Reggae Month this year.
Architecture, Music, and Reggae Culture
Chambers shared that he could have published the final version of his dissertation as is but he wanted to adjust a few things in order to take readers on a journey and for them to feel like they are reading a literary work on reggae culture and design and not a published academic paper.
“Fusing reggae culture with architecture was fairly easy because I don’t actually see them as separate. Though architects don’t necessarily specialise, you can become known for certain things and I want to be known in the realm of culture and architecture,” said Chambers.
“In my opinion, culture is Jamaica’s number one export. It’s our greatest resource and we don’t necessarily focus on it from a professional perspective. We focus on it informally. But, I would like to see that change and what better way than be part of that transition than through architecture. For example, Tuff Gong Studios wants to refurbish their space, I would want to be top of mind. I want my name to be the first one to be mentioned and considered when it comes to things like that,” he said.
Chambers said that when it comes to the infrastructure around music in Jamaica, more needs to be done.
He said that “if we have world class music, I think we should have world class musical contracts, world class infrastructure, and also world class sound engineering.”
He also shared that for him, it is more important to get into culture and music through architecturally developing the industry.
“There are many artistes, producers, and DJs alike who have mastered their craft, but the infrastructure is missing. Architects, engineers, and lawyers could support them by mastering cultural infrastructure. I believe that once the country addresses that gap for culturally appropriate spaces, Jamaica can go further as a cultural powerhouse. Essentially, it’s more important for me to develop the physical infrastructure in the music industry, than it is for me to become a musician,” he said.
Chambers highlighted that Jamaica has a dancehall culture but there are no actual dance halls built.
“We have smaller spaces built for the culture. These include Kingston Dub Club or even the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, but we don’t really have anywhere that was truly built with music in mind, without culture as the forefront. If I go to a dance, for example, it’s often held in the rectangle of a parking lot or in an open field. We also attend musical events in stadiums. Two of those spaces I mentioned were built for vehicles and sports and are only used in a multi-purpose manner to facilitate music. Yes, we have a few the cultural entertainment spaces, but there needs to be way more. Music is radial experience. So, shouldn’t the spaces we occupy with music be more radial?” said Chambers.
Aspirations of being a DJ, Designer
Chambers told Our Today that in his younger years, he had no interest in writing or even establishing a publishing company.
“I never saw this for me at all. But, I have reached a point in my life where I feel that certain topics are important to be discussed while I pursue my goal of being a certified architect and I felt that this book is important and a catalyst to my journey,” he said.
“Since teen years, my career choice was between architecture and graphic designing. However, there was a moment where I also wanted to explore music. I had aspirations to become a DJ and a producer but that died down fairly quickly. As far as design was concerned, a graphic designer explained to me that the market was saturated and asked, ‘how would you differentiate yourself?’. I didn’t really have an answer. I just knew, at the time that I wanted to make graphic t-shirts. I wanted to create my own t-shirt company. Otherwise, I didn’t really have an answer,” said the budding architect
“I told him about my other interest, which was in architecture and he said to me, ‘if you become an architect and still want to become a graphic designer later on, you can branch out. But if you become a graphic designer and later on want to become an architect, it might be much more difficult to make that move’. So, I made an executive decision and chose the long journey of architecture,” he added.
Future plans, publications
He notes that though he is not yet a registered architect, he is working in the field and has been for a number of years.
“I am working on my registration. It’s a lengthy process. You need to complete things such as a log book, a case study, an oral exam, a written exam, and complete a minimum 3,900 hours which works out to be about two years in the field after your Masters,” said Chambers.
He also shared that he has plans to write more books and they will all be focused on Pan African/Jamaican culture. His future literary works, he said, will be a continuation of the first as culture is interconnected and he wishes to incorporate as much culture into his life while being intentional about being that culturally aligned Jamaican architect that people refer to.
For other people pursuing their primary goals in life, whether in the field of architecture or otherwise, Chambers said, “I think that everybody has a book in them and we all have a story to tell. Get your thoughts out and offer to the world. I think we should move away from just being solely consumers. Be a creator of something that is good and wholesome.”
Connect with Jamal Chambers via email at [email protected] and with Paradigm Publishing Limited @paradigm.publishing.co on Instagram.
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