High Tech Vernacular: Bermuda Roofs

Local ingenuity addresses multiple climatic issues through architecture.

bermuda, water, roofs, architecture, sustainability, vernacular


John Keene


Andrew Dobshinsky


Brittany Coyle

On the small Atlantic island of Bermuda, architects and builders have an ingenious way of constructing roofs. For the past couple hundred years, these roofs have helped Bermudans overcome nature’s challenges.

The island’s geographic location puts it at consistent risk of exposure to hurricane force winds. Bermuda roofs are able to withstand this constant assault by employing a system of overlapping locally-quarried, weather-resistant limestone tiles. This gives Bermuda roofs their unique stepping appearance.

Bermuda is also challenged by limited access to fresh water and a warm, sunny climate year round. The island’s building code requires that roofs be painted white, which reflects the tropical sun. The code also requires that roofs channel rain water into underground water tanks, where it is filtered for household use.

The combination of unique reflective, water-collecting white roofs and a pastel color palette for walls required by code creates a tapestry that makes Bermuda a picturesque island, while maintaining a high level of sustainability and structural stability.