Caribbean shelter

When is climate a key player in the design of a luxury island resort? When it’s in the Caribbean – a sunny setting that is also prone to extreme weather events.

The Saama VI project, an eco-resort in the Virgin Islands, makes provision for high wind events that hit the region with regularity. The most extreme of these (category 5 events like 2017’s Hurricane Irma) strike the area on average every seven years. With climate change, the frequency of extreme weather events is likely to increase.  

Elemental is adopting a technology-responsive design approach in the face of this likelihood. Digital and mechanical technology combine to create buildings that can adapt in the event of a hurricane.

A hurricane shelter, doubling as a recreation area, will be integrated into the design of the resort on Jost Van Dyke island. Designed to withstand the most severe Category 5 weather event, the hurricane shelter will be constructed from steel containers. The shelter has the capacity to provide up to 72 hours of shelter for 500 people without any reliance on external power and other essential services.  

Digital monitoring technology will warn of impending hurricane activity, activating the various adaptive technologies that make the shelter self-sufficient. A hurricane screen will lower hydraulically when required, sealing the glass-frontage that provides views and amenity in fair weather conditions. Essential services of power, airflow, water and waste management will be generated through the use of gravity-fed water and battery stored power.  

The hurricane shelter is designed to provide shelter not only for the resort’s guests, but also for the permanent population of Jost Van Dyke island, where no shelter currently exists.