‘Tropical modernism’: Bahama’s beach house pavilions shaped by the environment

Composed of six pavilions overlooking Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island, this Bahama’s beach house exhibits elements of tropical modernism on a sloping site featuring more than 70 mature palm trees.

Arranged on the site’s highest point, each room is held within its own structure, each responding in its own way to the island’s varied climate, a seamless ebb and flow between the inside and outside.


“Each space offers distinct experiential qualities shaped by the immediate environment surrounding it,” said principal Melissa Brillhart, citing orientations, views, landscapes, micro-climates, light and the breeze.
All circulation takes place on outside walkways or bridges, providing ample views of the ocean.

The pavilions are clad in western red cedar shingles and have exposed rafters and pavilions like nearby cottages, but use structurally insulated panels and tongue-and-groove cypress decking for climate control and hurricane-rated strength.

The stucco pavilions with copper detailing are arranged around a courtyard – a tropical brush garden with a pool and lounge area – to protect it from the strong offshore winds.

Known as the Ocean Room, the beach-facing pavilion offers panoramic views of the sea through 16 sand-coloured operable shutters that capture the breeze and provide shelter from the rain.

The kitchen and dining area are in a covered open-air pavilion, while separate structures comprise en suite bedrooms, a living room, media room and indoor kitchen and dining room.

The rooms feature vaulted ceilings ranging from 15 feet to 26 feet (4.5 metres to 4.9 metres) in height and sliding doors and operable windows, bringing natural light into each space and displaying the surrounding landscape.

The interiors are defined by natural materials and an earth-toned palette with white walls, light wood floors, cherry millwork and locally made, white concrete countertops.

“The entire project is a testament to the craft and resourcefulness of the local builder,” Brillhart said.

On the eastern side, a wooden walkway leads down the hill to the beach, and on the western side, the jungle landscape is more prevalent.

“Given the long and narrow nature of the lot, a separate two-bedroom guest cottage was located on the lower part of the site, designed to take in the surrounding lush and tropical vegetation,” the team said.

Images by Brillhart Architecture and Stephen Goettlicher via Dezeen

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