The St Barth natives, used to natural catastrophes and especially hurricanes, have always built houses able to resist the strong winds that sweep the island during tropical storms. You can still see old whitewashed cottages near Marigot and others with wooden shingles in Corossol.
These traditional Saint Barth “cases” always have two structures: the main house which comprises two rooms - the bedroom and the living room - plus a second building nearby, which serves as the kitchen, with a cistern.
Water remains very scarce in Saint Barth, and every drop is always collected. Rain gutters ran into cisterns for the old whitewashed houses - as they do for today’s new villas - or into large pottery jars for the cottages with shingles.
In Gustavia, it is impossible to forget that the island once belonged to Sweden. Many of the Swedish buildings still exist, such as the former town hall, the Brigantine, and the clock tower, built on a stone base with wooden walls. There is also the mysterious Wall House, which has been renovated as home to the territorial library and the island’s heritage museum.
Today, the architecture on the island has changed considerably. While still built to resist hurricanes, stylish modern houses with every convenience and beautiful tourist villas have little by little taken a more prominent place on the landscape of Saint Barth.
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