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Barbados has a rich architectural heritage and is known for its characteristic fusion of the English Georgian style with elements designed to withstand the tropical environment. This “vernacular” style of architecture with its parapet roofs combined with the characteristic two foot thick coral stone walls is ideal for the Caribbean as it proved effective against the threat of hurricanes and tropical storms. It is widely known as “Caribbean Georgian” architecture.

The massing of the walls with relatively small fenestrations and the traditional verandahs also contributed to the natural cooling effect this style is renowned for. The late Sir Donald Wiles, former Director of the Barbados National Trust, loved to describe it as “Bajan air conditioning”.

Shirley House, on Hastings Main Road, in the district originally known as Hastings Village, developed in the 1830s, has been restored and brought back to life by Habitats Architectural Designs Inc., as the new headquarters of SigniaGlobe Finance. It has been selected as a winner in the annual International Property Awards, in the category of “Commercial Renovation/Redevelopment” in the Americas for 2015. Restoring this 200 year-old property was like reviving a piece of history as it is not only listed with the Barbados National Trust but it is also located in close proximity to the newly inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison.

The choice of materials was carefully selected – from the use of lime render and lime wash on the walls, which prevents the growth of mould, to the windows which were custom made to the original size and proportions but are double glazed, insulated, tinted and built to withstand hurricane force winds. All of the design elements of the exterior, including the traditional decorative fretwork on the porticos, have been carefully preserved and restored, and an extension at the rear has been meticulously and harmoniously integrated with the classic design. A beautiful new interior staircase has been built, and some interior walls have the coral limestone blockwork exposed, which is very pleasing. Overall, the final renovated structure has a corporate appeal with a modern touch within that is balanced by the classic elegance of the original colonial style. It is now a striking landmark in the Hastings Village and it is to be hoped that it will inspire other faithful restorations in the area.

Peter Sandiford, M.Arch, B.E.D.S., BIA, ARB

Director: Habitats Architectural Designs Inc.

Photos by http://www.lesliestjohn.com/

Learn more here: http://www.habitatsdesigns.com/

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