Hillside House

Private Residence, Bequia, The Grenadines


The Island of Bequia lies just south of St Vincent in the Grenadines. The practice designed this house on a steep south facing hillside 200metres above the Caribbean Sea. Spectacular views towards Cannaouan & Moustique to the south with access available only from the top, led the concept design and plan.

The elevation and position of the site on a descending ridge is sometimes breezy, a welcome relief from the hot & humid temperatures on the shore. The design follows the contours and hollows out the mountain behind the house to form a sheltered courtyard and garden. Apart from the wonderful garden plants & trees that flourish in this still environment, the courtyard allows fresh cool air to flow through the house, removing the need for air conditioning. An open veranda engages the rooms with the courtyard garden providing shelter from the sudden tropical rains, an experience that defines the place and the Caribbean.

The plan places the living room in the centre with a high roof above, with natural ventilation at the ridge through a slatted belvedere. The entrance is carefully orchestrated with arrival on the upper drive via a concrete spiral stair, a wide veranda on one side of the courtyard and an open hall with beautiful views out to sea.  Bedrooms open out either side with the pool placed at the west end to gain the last of the evening light. 

The construction is sympathetic to the skills and materials available on the Island, using rendered blockwork, timber structures, metal roofing and hardwood joinery throughout. Balcony rails are kept minimal to prevent obstructions to the view. Self-sufficiency in fresh water is achieved by large tanks filled directly from the roofs above, which also anchor the building into the hillside.

Architect: Cowper Griffith Architects LLP

Executive Architect on Bequia: Thomas Dehan

Project Value: Undisclosed