Eight Bells by Heliotrope Architects

Eight Bells

Sun, wind, and light are central to this site-specific response. The house, situated on an ocean-front site at 25 degrees north latitude, is exposed to extreme ocean winds and intense sunlight. Additionally, the building site is only 12 feet above sea level, subjecting it to potential coastal storm surge. These site factors greatly influenced the design response for this retreat home for a family of five.

The design solution features careful placement of openings to avoid wind, and the ability to manage wind via carefully placed operable window-walls. Intense sunlight is managed through shading of all dwelling areas, inside and out. This is achieved via a large breeze-block shade wall, placement of second floor massing and generous overhangs.

The entire 2,300-square-foot home is elevated over five feet above the building site, allowing storm surge to either flow around or under the structure. Program elements are situated to create a courtyard space, with a fire element at its center, which serves as the focal-point and metaphorical heart of the home. Bedrooms are situated to maximize privacy between them, and all spaces are oriented to offer expansive ocean views.

Building forms are simple, and materials and finishes were selected based upon the strengths of local craft, and include masonry, tile, stucco, and cedar shingle roofing. The resulting expression comfortably balances modernity with the historical architectural character of the island, which features structures dating back to the colonial era.

  • Location: The Bahamas
  • Architect: Heliotrope Architects
  • Contractor: Higgs Construction
  • Building Area: 2300 sf
  • Year: 2020
  • Images: Notion Workshop & Heliotrope Architects, Courtesy of Cameron Macallister Group

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