SHAPE tips
An example of two older buildings in Roseau and key techniques used that made them more resilient (photo credit: SHAPE)

Post Hurricane Maria there is heightened awareness of how we build Hurricane resilient buildings. We have unlearned our traditions in the way we build.

In those days [of old], our ancestors were not privileged to have satellites and advanced weather warning systems. They simply faced the monster hurricanes with no warnings. So they learnt how to minimize loss. Our traditional buildings have many elements to withstand the rigors of major hurricanes.

  1. A steep pitch roof generally 45 degree angles deflects the power of the wind.
  2. Minimum eaves deny the wind much of an area to get under the roof and provide uplift.
  3. Strong hurricane shutters that breathe and release pressure and protect openings from wind inflow and dangerous projectiles.
  4. The verandah, which is vulnerable, was built separate from the main roof.
  5. The use of wooden pegs and Mortise and tenant connections. These connections ensured that all aspects of the building are tightly fastened.


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  1. Great article, the use of hip roofs for aesthetics was a consideration; but also factored in design for resistance to wind loads by dispersion. Hoping the Society for Historic Architectural Preservation and Enhancement will highlight the construction techniques of the colonials and move construction technology towards an architectural model that can readily be incorporated within local skills.


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