Who is Ali Tur ?
Ali Georges Tur was born in Tunis in 1889. He was of French nationality (his father was a Cévenole polytechnician and his mother was from Alsace). Passionate about the arts he studied at the School of Fine Arts but his studies were interrupted when he left to join the war in 1914. After serving four years and being awarded the War Cross, he resumed his studies in 1919. He then started to win various awards; two medals, the Nestor Prize and the Rougevin Foundation Grand Prize for Decoration. He then worked in Paris, opening an architectural agency and participating in the rebuilding of towns and their buildings after the First World War. In 1925 he was listed as one of the top ten architects by the Ministry of French Colonies.
So it was that in 1928, after a cyclone devastated Guadeloupe, with most of the public buildings destroyed, Governor Tellier called on his skills for the rebuilding of the archipelago. He arrived in Guadeloupe in 1929 and from that time an almost radical change came about in the architectural style of the houses and buildings constructed in Guadeloupe.
The legacy of Ali Tur in Guadeloupe
Between 1929 and 1937 he designed and rebuilt a number of private and public buildings. His style broke completely from the traditional architecture which favoured wood and stone. Ali Tur included a modern technique in his works: Reinforced concrete. Not only is the concrete stronger but it also enabled the fulfilment of the architect’s imagination. New types of buildings started to appear in the archipelago, with columns, beams, agglomerated building blocks and plaster board. Reborn from the ruins, Basse-Terre, like Grand-Terre, started to gleam again.
He started with the Governor’s Palace, the Prefecture, the Town Hall and the Courthouse in the main town of Basse-Terre. A little later, authorised to place orders, the parishes could then benefit from the talent of Ali Tur. As a result, Ali Georges Tur built the Town Halls at Pointe Noire, Anse Bertrand, Lamentin and Bailif. The churches at Sainte Anne and Baie Mahault and the post offices at Bouillante and Vieux Habitants also bear his signature. Other buildings that bear the mark of this remarkable architect are the Meat Hall at Port Louis and the Gendarmerie of Sainte Rose among others…
He designed a total of 120 buildings in Guadeloupe up to 1937.