Interior Environmental Design

Karina Stirling

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As climate change becomes an even more pressing issue for smaller island nations, Guayacan Hill reimagines an off-grid hurricane shelter as a space of comfort and strong community relationships. Nuzzled into the highest peak on Abaco, the Bahamas, the island hardest hit by 2019’s category five Hurricane Dorian, this project is designed to double as safe space during hurricane season, and as a social and educational hub for Bahamian and international communities during off-season. Guayacan Hill incorporates the use of natural materials and visual way-finding to create a building that celebrates life and culture, resulting in a space that offers a psychologically calming atmosphere during a natural disaster, and a vibrant ambience to be enveloped in on a regular day.

The skeletal inspired building features a medical suite, evacuation pad, restaurant, multi-use entertainment hall, and washing facilities, where citizens can regain a sense of daily life, whilst reconnecting with and supporting their fellow community members. From survival tactics and goods, to dance classes and church gatherings, Guayacan Hill is an example of a centre for social and crucial survival interaction for the islands of the Bahamas.

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1. Exterior Landscape : Lit by a rainbow of coloured umbrellas, the landscape surrounding the shelter captures the celebration of culture and colour. Off-grid workshops, weddings, and picnics can take place in this area, welcoming all members of the community to come and enjoy each other's company.

2. Exterior site plan

3. Interior floor plan

4. North elevation

5. East elevation

6. Reception : Welcomed by a pop of pink, the reception provides the first impression of the shelter. Playful and warm, the reception was designed to hold large groups of people as they check into the shelter. With modular furniture and local dialect way finding, the space offers familiarity and comfort to anxious visitors.

7. Restaurant : The restaurant was inspired by Bahamian cookouts, where community members come together to cook, share and eat their food with one another on picnic benches by the sea. The restaurant was designed to encourage social interaction, highlighting the importance of relationships and their positive effects on reducing stress during traumatic situations.

8. The bar : This section of the restaurant allows visitors to interact with chefs as they prepare meals in an open kitchen.

9. Multi-use hall : With adaptable spaces to enjoy sports, watch films, play board games, and an area for pets, the hall is the heart of the shelter, where visitors can use fun to distract themselves from the hurricane. Sports hall markings, bright coloured lights, and bean bags make the space comfortable and informal.

10. Bedrooms : The barnacle inspired bed clusters hang from ropes, allowing them to be reconfigured depending on family sizes and privacy requirements. Named after the Bahamian islands, the blue fabric pods are intertwined with fairy lights, creating a calming movement throughout the space.

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