Old Fort Bay is one of New Providence’s most sought-after gated retreats. A young Bahamian couple, a real estate executive and a marine equipment supplier, have built their dream house on a canal-front lot in Old Fort Bay, a house that has been described as a rare example of “traditional elegance”. Having been raised with a love for traditional Bahamian architecture, they instructed Patrick Rahming & Associates to design them a house that demonstrated the natural elegance, the climatic appropriateness and the energy efficiency of the old homes on Green Turtle Cay, Governor’s Harbour and Sears Addition, but with the clean lines and modern facilities that would make their investment as “today” as them.
The site was a flat one, raised several feet above the canal, and looking across the waterway to the northern section of Old Fort Bay. And while there were other houses in the area, the selection of the site had been their dream of raising a family on the water in a quiet, sophisticated area, and the real estate executive knew just the right area in which to live.
The two-storey house sits lightly on the site, the main building raised above the ground, both for ventilation and to avoid flooding damage (both traditions in the Bahamas). The interior is organized to reflect the family’s levels of privacy, with the more public areas on the Ground Floor, the private bedroom area on the Upper Floor and the service areas organized around the Garage.
The entrance is up wide steps to an Entrance Porch, the traditional Bahamian invitation, then into the open plan interior, where, except for the Study and a Guest Room, it is completely open, inviting the southeast breezes. Here, the Living, Dining and Kitchen areas share a high ceiling, which has invited the not-unexpected ceiling fans, and is lit by recessed lighting at night and large windows during the day. Hurricane resistant French doors lead out to the Verandah, which overlooks an inviting swimming pool and the waterfront. The upper level of the Verandah serves the Master Bedroom, and enjoys an even more dramatic view across the channel.
The exterior of the house is clad with low-maintenance Hardee-plank on concrete blocks, with cedar shingles on the roof, and the house is painted in traditional Bahamian pastels. The house is designed to be hurricane resistant, with impact windows and doors, operable shutters and the traditional high roof pitch. It is also fully air conditioned and wired for the technology of today.
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