Shorelines and a kaleidoscope of blues connect the sea and sky in a seamless Bahamian horizon, punctuated by the rise of contemporary, glamorous and open-style-living architecture that has come to the fore in this tropical haven.
Home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, The Bahamas is a lush haven of thick vegetation and year-round sun. A collection of 700 islands and cays scattered across the Atlantic Ocean, its pristine beaches and turquoise waters have made it a hot destination among the superyacht elite for the past 30 years. From the captivating shores of its pink sand beaches to the famed ‘Tongue of the Ocean’ – a 6,000ft abyss located just off the east coast of Andros – its waters play host to a bustling underwater metropolis, home to sharks, stingrays and colourful tropical fish. But its shoreline has some of the hottest and most dynamic property developments in the Caribbean.
A huge element of Bahamian allure is down to the compelling and inimitable architecture that defines the island’s aesthetic. Born from a merging of European and African techniques,
Bahamian property design has become the architectural blueprint of the tropics. In addition to the grand colonial houses which were built pre-1970s, the island owes much of its charm to the proliferation of its early nineteenth-century ground floor ‘clapboard cottages’. Elevated on low stilts to allow air to circulate while avoiding rainwater floods, the cottages are typified by large windows and high ceilings in a bid to stay cool.
The recent explosion of modern villas and beach houses that focus on open-plan living and bright, airy spaces, make exceptional use of the island’s 360 days of sunshine. ‘House on a Dune’ is the latest project from renowned architect Chad Oppenheim of Oppenheim Architecture. A two-storey getaway that perches atop a sand dune just off the northern tip of Eleuthera island, the house features a living room that extends onto a deck overlooking the water and, says Oppenheim, was “inspired by the historical primitive building techniques of the area”.
“The central space of the house is essentially an open breezeway around which the rest of the living spaces are simply arranged,” says Oppenheim. “Materials have been selected for their distinctive sincerity, environmental sensitivity and a resonance with the vernacular.”
Walls clad in stone and cedar and large sliding windows define the emerging architectural style of today. Miami-based Touzet Studio’s modern take on “island architecture” is underpinned by white-painted wood-clad ceilings and walls, and pale stone flooring that resembles sand. The private residence, which was unveiled to the world in June 2018, sits on a private beach on the North Cat Cays island. Named ‘Out of the Blue’, it features a touch of azure throughout to “match the hues of the ocean that it overlooks”.
Tasked with a brief to design a “modern version of a Bahamian house for the tropics”, the design duo delivered by pairing a contemporary design language with ‘old school’ sustainable principles, big shady porches, overhangs and volume ceilings that allows hot air to rise.
For most visitors, The Bahamas’ number one attraction is its powder-soft, limestone-white sands. For the design elite, it’s the large timber decks, shallow-pitched gabled roofs, and
unsurpassed ocean vistas that truly capture the magic of this burgeoning tropical sanctuary.