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Credit: Flickr user Lee Shoal
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Uncommon Attraction: The Bubble House on Cayman Brac

Uncommon Attraction: The Bubble House on Cayman Brac

Back in the day when we were kids growing up in St. Croix, I can remember helping my Dad prep our house for oncoming hurricanes by affixing large masking tape “X’s” to our windows. The idea, I surmised, was that the tape would hold the glass together if any flying projectiles ever took aim at our house.

This always seemed odd to me, the inherent counterintuitiveness of safeguarding windows by taping “X marks the spot” bullseyes on ’em not necessarily filling my little boy head with much confidence.

Either way, the theory was never seriously tested at our house – hurricanes David and Frederic, the two most notorious storms of my youth, only dealt glancing blows to St. Croix – and as experts have been quick to point out at every opportunity lately, taping windows just doesn’t work.

What has been working for a small yet seemingly increasing number of homeowners in the Caribbean, though, is building homes and structures purposely designed to withstand hurricanes in all their fury. Homes like The Bubble House.

This uniquely rotund residence can be found on Cayman Brac, a small (about 15 square miles) and eminently uncommon paradise located a good 90 miles north of Grand Cayman. It’s a sleepy island, offering world class diving, some nice hiking and spelunking opportunities, fishing, watersports, and not much else; the perfect place to run off to and live a quiet life.

I’m guessing that’s what the original owner was thinking. From what I’ve read, he was apparently a French businessman of some stature. Unfortunately for him, though, he got busted for embezzlement before the house was completed in the early 1990s.

The house the Frenchman never got to call home measures 5,500 square-feet inside and is virtually hurricane-proof. Owing to its shape and construction, The Bubble House can withstand winds clocking up to 300 mph!

Its waterfront location is nothing to sneeze at either.

Someone else calls The Bubble House home these days, so if you happen by to snap a few pics, you’ll want to be respectful and keep your visit short.

For more on The Bubble House, check out Brac360.ky.

Photo credit: Flickr user Lee Shoal.

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  • Michael Schnatzmeyer

    Hello, – Nice to see photos of the finished project, – although quite different than originally conceived. I performed the architectural design work on the Nautilus in the early ’90’s. Although not hurricane “proof”, it is intended to be more resilient, and am glad to see it holding up well over the years. I was able to have a brief visit while the shell was in construction, but have never seen the finished project. I understand it sat idle for a number of years. The original design had a more enveloping entryway (think wrap around motorcycle helmet with a cut out in the middle), as well as 5 other arched “dormers” extending outward at the rear and at axial positions. These elements were intended to be able to set the windows in a flat vertical surface within protective overhangs. (Hope you’re not having water issues as built!). The Nautilus was also inspired by the local “Tortugas”, or tortoises, regarding this conception of the protruding elements. I’d love to see interior photos, and would welcome hearing from the present owners. Mike S

  • Chet Michaels

    The windows shouldn’t have been inset, rather flush with the exterior, allowing wind to “wash over” them. The insets will create a pressure point for them to blow inward. Also, unless the eyebrow portico over the front door is breakaway, its going to catch the wind and tear open a hole above the front door. Great idea, but falls short.