3 Architectural Firms that are Redefining Caribbean Design

We’re all familiar with the trademarks of traditional Caribbean architecture. Wrap around verandahs, louvered windows, stone walls, arched doorways and colourful shutters functioning as both embellishment and protection. These homes have long served as staples of our history, peppering the shorelines and hilltops of Providenciales, from the original settlements, to the first wave of foreigner migration to T&C’s shores, with builds pioneered by the Ward family.

With development now taking on more of a steady rolling swell, rather than a crest with peaks and troughs, the last decade of T&C’s home design has seen the emergence of a more contemporary aesthetic. As a personal example I (FINALLY) made the transition from an open air home with louvered windows and gorgeous breezes through most of the year, to hurricane rated glass windows and an eco-friendly air condition system 🙂 As an avid lover of traditional Caribbean design, I never thought I’d say this, but I haven’t looked back since.

My example is a humble residential perspective of someone who feels deep roots to this timeless aesthetic, but with a steady influx of international buyers, I’m not alone in my pursuit of home design with an increasingly modern tilt. Below are 3 architectural firms that are truly transforming the landscape of Providenciales and redefining how we think about Caribbean design:

  1. Blee Halligan Architects

London and TCI based firm Blee Halligan Architects cut their teeth as development partner to Windward on the Blue Cay project and have continued this partnership on the South Bank project and The Peninsula at Emerald Estate, four standalone contemporary Beach Houses on the exclusive northeastern tip of Leeward, which are undeniably the showpiece properties of the collection. Blee also works on private projects throughout Providenciales, building on their design ethos of building in nature; designing for specific geographic, climatic and cultural nuances of the locale.

  1. Jacobsen Arquitetura

Beach Enclave is known for outside the box thinking, enter stage left, the first ever South American architectural firm to design in the Turks and Caicos. Hired to create minimalist low impact designs for the Beach Enclave Long Bay expansion and Beach Enclave North Shore second phase, Jacobsen Arquitetura successfully provided integrated designs to two seemingly varying sites. Linear design using natural materials, space and light, combine to create comforting ordered spaces with zero distractions to evoke a feeling of calm, provided by both the clean interiors and tropical views the designs overlook.

  1. James Hamilton Architects

With over 20 years’ experience designing homes in Turks & Caicos as well as an international presence in Ireland and Great Britain, James Hamilton Architects pride themselves on empathetic design, with their clients needs at the heart of their process. A browse through their website will illustrate the numerous projects they’ve been involved in, and the varied nature of the homes they can produce. A personal favourite is Villa Fred, which marries the softness of cedar shingled roofing, order of symmetry and more modern linear elements like planked roofing, recessed lighting and pocket sliding doors opening to expansive views.

Why I Love December in Turks and Caicos

  1. The Trade-winds are back
Sunset over Grace Bay beach

Anyone who has lived in the Equatorial zone, or has traveled to the Caribbean/S. America over the years during Christmas season, will be familiar with the Trade-winds. The Trade-winds, dominate most of the tropics and subtropics throughout the world and are a nearly constant (they only drop away during end of September and October) northeasterly wind in our hemisphere, that starts to blow in November of every year. By the time December rolls around we experience whether akin to Aspen, Colorado.  Think bright blue skies with the sun beating down, but a cool chill in the air.  Substitute snow-capped mountains for swaying palm trees and sandy beaches and you begin to get a feel for the special draw of Turks and Caicos (‘T&C’) during the holiday Christmas period.

  1. Boat trips
Coral is beautiful to look at, but we don’t allow it to be taken out of the sea 🙂

Every December 26th since I was a child, we have enjoyed a Boxing Day boat trip on the Atabeyra.  For those with British heritage you’re familiar with the joys of Boxing Day, which for all intents and purposes, is a much less chaotic day than its forefathers Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Irish call it Wren Day, other countries call it St Stephen’s Day, but for all who celebrate it, in practicality it has become a day to relax and unwind after the stress of the holiday season is over, and gather with friends and family to enjoy a final day of good food and great company.  If you can enjoy this holiday, or any other day in December on a boat, you’re quids in!  Boating is a year-round event in T&C, and it doesn’t stop during Christmas.  The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining and we’re still swimming in the ocean.  Granted the sea may be a little colder than we locals like it, but there’s no better way to wash off the cobwebs than taking a Boxing Day plunge, and let’s face it, anyone from the Northeastern seaboard or Europe would laugh if they heard us admitting we find it a little cold!  The temperature is akin to taking a dip in the Mediterranean during Summer time, refreshingly cool, enough to enliven your skin and leave you feeling renewed and energized.

  1. Inter-island travel is open again
Mudjin Harbour, Middle Caicos

If you, like many, have been confined to your homes/apartments since the outbreak of COVID-19, self-isolating, locked-down and going through the rigmarole of at home schooling like the saint that you are, imagine jumping on a ferry with your family (face mask on of course) and making your way over to North Caicos (population approx. 1,500).  From North Caicos, you can rent a car and head over to Middle Caicos on the causeway to explore the caves and bluffs with virtually no one else in sight. Fresh air, clean breezes, big ocean and natural adventures abound in North and Middle Caicos, and are just what the doctor ordered after months and months of quarantine. Sure, you can stay cooped up in your apartment until the frost from winter thaws, or you can safely enjoy all that T&C’s sister islands have to offer, and give your family the gift of a memory they may not have otherwise had.

  1. Outdoor Activities
Tip of the Tail Villa

With the end of the dreaded hurricane season in November, December’s climate is well known as the most hospitable environment for international travelers. We’ve talked about boating and beaching, but there is no end of outdoor activities to take advantage of.  With highs in the low 80’s and lows in the high 70’s, December is a perfect time to get on that kayak or paddle-board and explore miles and miles of unspoiled natural environment. Mangroves, the same ecosystem that protects our shorelines during hurricanes, are peaceful and rife with small marine life, turtles and bird watching for the nature lovers out there.  There are many places where you can enjoy these activities conveniently just by stepping out of your private villa’s backyard, like Tip of the Tail Villa.  Otherwise you can join one of the many operators on a guided tour of these precious ecosystems.  I especially like Big Blue Collective who have long been ahead of the game in focusing on small private groups and preservation of the flora and fauna of T&C.

  1. The Seven Stars Xmas tree
Shot by Kaieri Media

Call me crazy, but without the usual queues of the seasons you receive when you live in the Temperate zone, its tough to know when Xmas is on its way.  We tend to live in a perpetual endless summer in T&C, but there are a few key indicators that the Christmas season is well under way.  The first of these signs is the lighting of the giant Christmas tree that has long been an annual tradition.  In years gone by the space that Seven Stars now occupies, used to be home to one of the first resorts in T&C, the Ramada, and after that it changed hands to the Allegro.  Those times are a distant memory now, and it’s hard to imagine a time when Seven Stars wasn’t Seven Stars.  The resorts on this prime beachfront land are so varied in aesthetics, but the one common feature, other than the land they’ve occupied, is the lighting of the Xmas tree.  That’s the thing about traditions, they stand the test of time.

Written by:

Courtney Chapman

Second Home Significant Properties – 5 Beach and Waterfront Homes with Style

By Courtney Chapman 

20th August 2020

Turtle Tail Estate, Turtle Tail, Turks & Caicos Islands 

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people the world over are reassessing their needs and living situations. With rising numbers fleeing to the suburbs, we are seeing renewed importance placed on homeownership that values privacy amidst natural surrounds. A retreat that acts as both sanctuary and with functionality, to meet the needs of modern families in our “new normal” enivorn, where it’s proving possible that we may be experiencing “togetherness” with only our immediate family members for some time to come. The hour long work commute is quickly being replaced by home offices, and classrooms of 25+ children with quiet mutifunctional spaces for homeschooling.  What was once the convenience of life in the city center is rapidly being replaced with the quest for tranquility, a type of peace of mind that is achieved only through living your day-to-day in a remote location. If you too are reprioiritising your life focus towards health, longevity, closeness of family and calm surrounds, here are 5 properties that will ease your spirit and tick every box on the list. 

Complete privacy and seclusion in Turtle Tail, Turks & Caicos Islands

Turtle Tail Estate – Turtle Tail, Turks & Caicos Islands 

With multiple pools and unparalleled infrastructure, including an ocean facing home office, fitness center, home theatre, and commercial kitchen, Turtle Tail Estate, has been masterfully executed as more than just a private home.  It is essentially an ultra-luxury resort onto itself, with onsite amenities such as a tennis court, games room, wine cellar and a 75’ private boat dock for yacht mooring. Add in 270-degree views from its position on an elevated 4.57-acre peninsula all on its own, masterfully executed architectural and interior detail, and this well managed family resort-like retreat provides everything you might be looking for. 

Multi-generational opportunity in Emerald Point, Turks & Caicos Islands

The Peninsula at Emerald Estate – Emerald Point, Turks & Caicos Islands 

Perfectly positioned on the eastern end of Leeward’s sought after North shore, the Peninsula at Emerald Estate offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reside in a tropically landscaped private cul de sac, with views and access to an assortment of uninhabited cays to the east, and renowned Grace Bay beach to the west. Four custom pre-construction beach house designs embody high-level soft contemporary design, with interiors by B&B Italia, on approximately 1-acre beachfront sites, that take care to embody the natural beauty of their location. After you’ve wrapped your head around the unprecedented frontage, 215 – 320 feet, take your private boat from Leeward canal just behind the property and explore the majestic beaches of Donna Cay, Little Water Cay and beyond. 

Quintessential Caribbean charm in Turtle Cove, Turks & Caicos Islands

Lizard Lounge – Turtle Cove, Turks & Caicos Islands 

Impeccably detailed throughout, this newly completed (2019) stunning classical Caribbean villa boasts a beachfront pool, hot tub, grill station, al fresco dining and lounging, with an electronic gate, solar, propane and full backup generator, and that’s just naming the outdoor features. Once you enter Lizard Lounge, a family-friendly vision of luxury presents through a large island kitchen with entertainment bar, Miele appliances, stone tile flooring, traditional Caribbean ‘pickled’ timber flooring, elegant and extensive custom millwork and built-ins and more. Even the name of the road it lives on is quintessentially Caribbean, come and see the home for yourself on “Coconut Road”, Turtle Cove. 

Contemporary living in a boat lover’s community in Long Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands

Dune Villas, South Bank – Long Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands 

Bedded into the landscape, the two Dune Villas at South Bank, revere the horizon line from atop a 25 ft. dune on the western end of Long Bay beach in the esteemed Ocean Estate neighborhood. With over 3 miles of unspoilt beachfront, and some of the finest ocean views stretching in front of you, unencumbered (glass balustrades) and vast in their southern facing vantage, South Bank is a resort and marina community with something for everyone. There are two other waterfront neighborhoods, including 1 – 3-bedroom Boathouses and smaller 3 – 5-bedroom beachfront homes, all with their own unique relationship to the water. Amenities for the Dune Villas however, include an elevator to take you over 3 floors (yes there are 3 floors!), prep kitchen, multifunctional room for gym, office, staff quarters or similar, owner’s storage & a two car garage, as well as access to a clubhouse, spa, private lounging islands and a slew of boat lover perks like fueling, provisioning, and wet/dry docking for preferential rates.  

Move in ready beachfront oasis in Emerald Point, Turks & Caicos Islands

Villa Chill – Emerald Point, Turks & Caicos Islands 

In addition to six bedrooms benefitting from beachfront views, Villa Chill also boasts a further two bedrooms, located in a standalone guest house with its own private plunge pool. Spanning 11,000 total square feet and 120 feet of frontage in the safe-haven of Leeward, known for its seclusion, one of the finest beaches is steps from your door, and the views are stellar, the whole house having been raised above grade to take full advantage of the beachfront position. Retreat here and enjoy time with your nearest and dearest full time, or as a seasonal residence, for vacation use or lucrative short-term rentals. 

With multiple beachfront options at your fingertips, the homes here will be sure to appeal to both the solitary recluse and the adventure seeker in you.  What are you waiting for?