This thesis endeavours to document the remaining traditional Mauritian dwellings and determine what elements constitute the ‘Mauritian style’.
Information which relates to the domestic architecture of Mauritius is currently minimal. Case studies have therefore been established within each chapter to document and analyse the houses of each period. The case studies concentrate on recording and analysing the design influences, use and construction of the dwellings. The documentation is performed in chronological order, according to the relevant periods in history, through text, photographs and drawings.
Chapter One outlines the case studies and methodology of research. This thesis argues that in order to understand the architecture of a country, its influences must be discovered; therefore Chapter 2 delves into the geography, climate, demography, political influences and historical events.
In Chapter Three the architectural influences of the French period are documented. The chapter’s case study then analyses these influences and their suitability to the Mauritian climate.
Chapter Four records the British colonial period of the island and analyses its adaptation methods. A case study is made regarding a grand colonial house. The town in which the house is located is examined along with the dwelling group.
Chapter Five demonstrates how houses of different socioeconomic levels, can consist of the same basic elements for style and comfort. Architectural periods of the island are documented and analysed beginning with the elaboration of the Mauritian style in 1860, through to the popular middle class dwellings of 1960s. The final analysis of this chapter is made in regards to modest corrugated iron and timber dwellings.
Beach houses form a major part of life for the islanders, therefore in Chapter Six the use, design and construction of beach houses is examined through a case study.
Chapter Seven documents the level of architectural involvement within the Mauritian construction industry and broadly profiles a current practicing local architect Sylvain Espitalier Noel. A discussion is made regarding the reality of a ‘Mauritian Style’ and of the increase in concrete block construction.
The concluding chapter argues that without extensive research into the architecture of other tropical climates of similar influences, it cannot be accurately stated that Mauritius possesses a unique style. That is not to say that no style exists, for it is evident through the analysis of the different periods that a gradual system of design and construction emerged which has become well suited to the cyclone prone island and continuously evolves to suit its people.