INTRODUCING | Island Arch Notes
Welcome to ‘Island Arch Notes’, a series delving into the unique geography and history of this island nation which has shaped our distinctive architectural style. From Eleuthera to Crooked Island, our buildings are as colorful as they are rich in history. Although the notion of ‘island life’ is often equated with turquoise expanses, fruity drinks and thatched roofs, The Bahamas’ architectural style has been emulated, perfected and standardized throughout the West Indies. With varying influences playing a role, Bahamian architecture has many layers to it. Whether you’re scanning the horizon for an island venue or looking for your next vacation rental, here are some Bahamian architectural aesthetics to ponder in your summery daze.
A style truly shaped by our sun-drenched, seaside existence with warming trade winds that rustle the saluting palms and relentless storms to rough the seas, our architecture has a distinguished look that has everything to do with our temperate climate. This weathered art-form has governed Bahamian living as we know it and we're going to take a closer look. ‘Island Arch Notes’ will explore the very essence of Caribbean design and how these distinctive characteristics have withstood the test of time. Of course, there will be some island hopping too, as we make our way to some of the best preserved and most charming island artifacts. We will ponder all of the varying influences that carve the homes that shelter us throughout our scattered archipelago.
THE CLAPBOARD HOUSE
This string of islands offers a colorful, ever-changing idealized series of landscapes that are juxtaposed with the vibrancy of everyday life. The Clapboard House, whose pastel palettes are forever etched in our memories, appear in bright clusters throughout our islands. Bahamian communities are tight-knit and woven together much like the wooden homes that once made up the majority of dwellings. These charming cottages, standardized in the early 19th century, were ground floor homes elevated on short stilts allowing for circulation but avoiding the chaos of summer floods. With enlarged windows and high ceilings for optimal ventilation, these iconic homes both contrast with and complement the tropical neighboring vegetation.
These iconic, pink-hued homes are dotted throughout the Bahamas. Featuring perfect symmetry, verandahs, large vistas with wooden shutters and DECORATIVE trims, these relics are fine examples of clapboard houses.
THE COLONIAL HOUSE
The ‘Colonial House’ is the oldest, most stately architectural structure our islands have to offer. Of British descent, this design has a grandness to it and many of our government offices occupy a colonial-style building. With precise symmetry, these homes were usually finished with balconies and verandahs to welcome the cooling trade winds. The peaked roof is the most important element of our architecture. Like an umbrella, it protects its occupants from the sun as well as the rain. These candy-colored buildings continue to frame our islands in bygone splendor.
Government House sits proudly atop Mount Fitzwilliam on duke street overlooking the comings and goings of Nassau harbour. the primary facade features four bold structural COLUMNS and louvered wooden shutters making it a grand example of Georgian Colonial Architecture.
With the rise of contemporary developments, The Bahamas has experienced a shift towards modernity. Like our predecessors, architects today continue to build climate-complimentary structures. Tirelessly, the trade winds blow, bringing an indispensable freshness to life in the islands. Regardless of era, this is something that will remain a trait of island homes forever. Modern buildings are often complete with tiled roofs, clean stone walls, french doors, multiple terraces and seek out elevation wherever possible.
a new hybrid style is upon us - the modernized bahamian home. This look celebrates the traditional while adding a refreshed, contemporary element to bahamian structures.
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