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The Clever Architectural Feature That Makes Life on Bermuda Possible

One of the criteria for "habitable" islands is the presence of fresh water. Bermuda has none: no springs, no lakes, no mountains streams. Yet it was so beautiful that those who wanted to live there were determined to find a way. Now the island is home to 65,000 people. Where do they get their drinking water?   

Bermudians are some of the most water-conscious people in the Western world, and this consciousness is built into their homes. The blindingly white, limestone Bermuda Roof—an architectural rain-catch concept with roots dating back to the 17th century—is singularly responsible for making human life possible in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The roof of each home is mandated, by law, to catch and redirect rain into underground cisterns that serve as islanders’ primary source of freshwater. While initially conceived as a means of survival, the elegant roofs have become an aesthetic landmark. “Architecturally, Bermuda really hasn’t changed,” says Guilden Gilbert, a born-and-raised Bermudian. “It’s unlikely that you’d see any modern design in island architecture, which I think is actually a good thing.”

The roofs are not only handy for water collection, they are tough. Some of them have been there for hundreds of years! Read about Bermuda roofs and their crucial functions at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: (WT-en) Legrospaumé)


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