Sunday, December 26, 2021

Smart Architecture: Bermuda Roofs Rebuff Hurricanes, Collect Water & Cool Homes

 From 99% Invisible:

Bermuda has a reputation for being a luxurious tourist destination, but visitors to the island’s posh hotels might miss out on a key resource restraint that drives local architectural design: a lack of water. 99% Invisible listener Amy Daniels wrote in to explain how the absence of freshwater lakes and streams coupled with annual hurricanes led to the development of a clever roofs that neatly suit the local climate.

The bright white roofs “step up” in a very distinctive fashion, like staircases on four sides converging at the peak. These are “designed to catch rainwater and store it for use,” explains Daniels. But they are also built “to withstand the high winds of hurricanes.” They even “help keep the houses cool (as a semi-tropical island it gets very hot and humid).” Plus, they’re durable and “can last for centuries.” These designs are everywhere on the island, and with good reason.

Early houses made by the island’s first settlers employed wooden frames and frond-covered roofs, but wood was a scarce and valuable resource, so people began to turn toward stone. Bermuda is rich in limestone, which led to a productive symbiosis between excavation and construction: digging out space for foundations and basements naturally frees up great raw building materials for building robust homes. From there came so-called “Bermuda roofs,” which step upward and to Mark Twain’s eye looked like the frosting on a cake. The stone roofs are heavy, helping them withstand high winds when storms strike. They also collect remarkable amounts of water for residents....