Secure Your Home Through Architectural Design
Bermudians are no strangers to hurricane preparedness. In the face of an emergency, it’s well-known to secure your property and stock up on nonperishable food and water. However, much can be done to your structure to make it a more secure and resilient long before disaster strikes through the use of thoughtful architectural design and landscape design.
When hurricane-force winds bear down on a coastal area, one of the first pieces of a house to go is the roof, but Bermudians solved that problem long ago with the signature Bermudan roof. The Bermuda roof is not only architecturally beautiful; it’s structurally sound and collects clean water. While your roof is safe, the rest of your home is not in the clear.
Hurricanes bombard homes with wind, rain and even tree limbs, which can often lead to power outages. Once the power goes out for more than a few hours, frequently comfort is soon to follow. An architect can help you design your home to be more resilient infrastructures, but also more comfortable when you’re without power for days at a time.
Communities in all shapes and sizes can benefit from passive design, which takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the home. Architects know the orientation of the house, as well as the placement of windows and ventilation, are crucial to optimize daylight and air flow. Material details and finishes ensure daylight penetration, solar control, and natural ventilation throughout the living spaces.
Another strategy that needs to be considered is designing with the land. The landscape architecture of your home becomes vastly more important when trees on your property stand in the way of 100 plus miles per hour winds. Building your home elevated on the site, atop a hill or slope, can keep trees from being knocked down and blown into your home. If an elevated home is not an option, native trees in grouping 5 or more provide a more wind resistant landscape.
Opening windows and doors, as well as designing your home with breezeways, will allow strong winds to blow through the home rather than building up pressure against the exterior. To keep the breezeways and patios protected from heavy, rain, flying debris, and severe winds homeowners can utilize exterior, steel mesh screens. This hurricane-approved protection functions comparable to regular mesh screens but has the strength of a steel security door to protect from debris. The subtle steel mesh frame is customized to match the house’s architectural design, so that when the storm approaches you just pull them closed and allow debris-free wind to flow through your home.
Arguably, the most hurricane-resistant house would be a square reinforced concrete bunker with thick walls and roof, few windows, and no overhangs. But who would want to live there? The design and structuring of houses must adequately respond to the destructive forces without sacrificing the aesthetics or livability of our houses. Before you start building your next home discuss with an architect how the design your home can work with nature, rather than against it.