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Architect's House

The Architect’s House
By Steve Fox, Managing Director, OBM International

When designing his own house, where does an architect begin? After 30 years designing homes for clients in the BVI, Tim Peck, Chairman of OBMI, understands the essential ingredients of a Caribbean home.

Tim and his wife Scottie are building three homes overlooking Ballast Bay and Cane Garden Bay—two for sale and one for themselves. “We set out to design the first of these homes based upon our preferred lifestyle: open, free-flowing, clean and modern, and thoroughly respectful of location and context,” said Tim. The result is a comfortably scaled contemporary Caribbean home which makes the most of the location’s spectacular views.

All photos by Dougal Thornton.

Tim and Scottie endeavoured from the outset to preserve as much of the natural vegetation on the site as possible. They cleared the building zone themselves, working the location of the house and the access to the site in between the existing trees. “We were delighted that our contractors, Arthur and Eric, worked with us to minimise damage to the trees. Preserving the natural vegetation makes so much sense, in terms of limiting soil erosion and harmful runoff, and reducing future landscaping costs,” Tim noted.

The footprint of the house was kept simple to reduce site disturbance with the house stepping up three stories to accommodate the three bedrooms. Access is from the rear, slightly above mid level, with the house nestled in amongst the trees, keeping the visual impact of the three levels to a minimum. The approach from the uphill side means that the roof becomes a major visual feature. Tim and Scottie decided to opt for a neutral grey standing seam roof, reminiscent of the older traditional zinc-clad roofs with the simplicity of the lines complementing the stepped eaves and tall gable windows. The eaveswere brought down low, to reduce the visual height externally, but internally the steep pitch of the roof and the exposed rafters enhance the volume of the bedroom spaces and allow for generous attic storage.

Tim wanted to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior living where possible and opted for opening up the living area on two sides with pocketed sliding glass screens. With some structural gymnastics, the corner column was eliminated leaving the open corner appearing to defy gravity, bringing the swimming pool and water wall into the living space and completely opening up the living areas to the views.

The living space is sleek and chic with travertine tiles fl owing through to an open kitchen. A freestanding wood staircase to the upper bedrooms is a folded plate of butcher block dramatically cantilevered out from the living room wall. Stainless steel cables run through two levels of the house, passing through the edge of the staircase, offering a safe but creative alternative to the traditional stair balustrade. The effect offers an open sculptural solution for the vertical transition though the house.


 The large open plan living space, with cantilevered staircase to the upper level bedrooms.

Tim and Scottie decided to paint the two master bedrooms’ steeply pitched rafters and boarding white for a brighter, more contemporary feel. The dramatic lighting of the structure is further emphasized in the second master bedroom by the use of a large triangular gable window in the eaves.

The bathroom has a double-ended bath with a view over Cane Garden Bay to Jost Van Dyke. Tim and Scottie were focused on designing a master bathroom with the ambience of a spa whilst maintaining the theme of outdoor living. The solution was to provide a wall of pocketing sliding glass panels opening up and an alfresco shower. The vanity cantilevers out in front of the wide opening, ensuring that the morning ablutions also take full advantage of the outdoor views.

Overall, the house features generous internal and external spaces with a level of intimacy which respects their uses. The result is an interesting interpretation of an architect’s design decisions for contemporary living in a Caribbean environment.

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