Blakstad Design Consultants’ stable of international projects is growing exponentially. One of the interesting things about this global reach is the organic way it evolved. In large part, we can thank the internet and social media for providing a platform for us to share our work and passions. This seemingly magical tool opened pathways we had never dreamed of previously, putting us in touch with architecture and design lovers across the world. It is heartening indeed to make these connections across continents and cultures, finding in each a common thread. What has been surprising is the organic way in which this international recognition has developed. Other than sharing images and stories in our blog and on social media, we’ve done very little to attract a wider global audience. We can only surmise that people really love our style, and for that we’re very grateful!
One of the more interesting places we’ve had the honour to work is the islands of Turks and Caicos. The owners of this tropical plot of land had come across our work on social media. They had a project that was due to start construction but they were not entirely happy with the design. Wanting to stick to the construction schedule, we endeavoured to redesign their plans within very tight time constraints – it was a challenge, but one we were willing to take on. First, we had to get to know the location.
A British Overseas Territory, Turks and Caicos are comprised of two groups of small islands within the Lucayan Archipelago. The islands have a population of around 57,196, most of which is cantered on Providenciales – an island in the northwest of the group. The name Caicos comes from the Lucayan word cayo hico meaning ‘string of islands’ and Turks is named after the indigenous Turk’s Cap cactus, named for its unusual red flower that looks like a Fez hat. Like Ibiza, the islands of Turks and Caicos were visited, inhabited and invaded by a who’s who of the Middle Ages. Columbus was said to sail by, Bermudan salt collectors settled in, pirates of all kinds enjoyed hiding out there and the French had a good go at it until the British finally declared it their own in 1799.
The landscape is a picture postcard of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, as one expects of tropical islands. With 350 days of sunshine a year, summertime temperatures rarely exceed a blissful 33 degrees and the lowest it gets is 18 degrees. Known as a biodiverse hotspot, the skies, forests and seas of Turks and Caicos are full of beautiful creatures which have helped place the islands on the waiting list to become a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site. It’s not a bad place to live or work.
Back to the project. The main house spills out over 650 square metres of built space with a 150 square metre guest annexe containing two bedrooms. There’s a gymnasium and a children’s playroom, plus all five bedrooms in the main house have en-suite bathrooms. The central living area opens to a series of patios from which the rectangular pool stretches out towards the azure ocean. Usually, pools are placed horizontally to the house but this project came with a pre-approved perpendicular design and the result is spectacular. Palms are scattered across the clipped lawns and the general vibe is a contemporary tropical beach house.
The design is distinctly Blakstad, with bright whitewashed walls, wood pergolas, central pillars and hand-hewn wood cabinetry. The materials used are similar to what we use in Ibiza yet were sourced from the USA due to proximity and ease. However, the stone flooring and wood were hard to find so the Blakstad team painstakingly shipped these materials from Ibiza. While the design is familiar, the bones of the projects required a completely different approach.
In Ibiza, homeowners wage a constant war against humidity and therefore our designs reflect the need to protect properties from moisture damage. Add to that the need for heat in winter and air-conditioning in summer while attempting to reduce the carbon footprint and you face some serious design challenges. In the tropics, however, thermal insulation is a moot point but of course, there are other trials and tribulations to overcome.
All the islands in this region face hurricane season head-on and our designers needed to recalibrate their thinking to consider the effects of high winds on built surfaces. Windows must be reinforced; roofs and parapets must be designed to withstand immense pressure and good ventilation is required for cooling. This project took our team on a fascinating foray into hurricane-resistant architecture – an element we’d never had to confront before.
The final design is simply stunning. This beautiful island greets the Mediterranean ambience of a Blakstad home as if it was a long lost friend. The clean lines, fresh colour palette and simple yet elegant spaces lend themselves to blissful Caribbean days. Right now, the villa is still in the construction stage and is due for completion in time for the winter holiday season. That’s the best time to go, just in case you were wondering. We’ll meet you under the palm trees.