'Jamaican great house' on Patrick's Island nets design award

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A custom-designed hurricane-proof house with its own “orchid courtyard” and tower with views of the ocean helped a Cayman Islands architecture firm win an industry award.  

Design Cayman won the award for a unique Jamaican great house on Patrick’s Island, designed to the specifications of Peggy and Danny O’Hara.  

The luxury mansion is elevated 16 feet off the ground to keep it safe from storms at the request of Mr. O’Hara, a car dealer who lost his entire fleet of rental vehicles in Hurricane Ivan.  

Design Cayman won the Caribbean section of the International Property Awards for the best designed single dwelling house. They now go forward to the world awards in Dubai later this year. 

Architect Brian MacDonald said the house had essentially been custom designed to fit the personalities of its owners. 

It features a “sacrificial” open-air lower level that leaves the interior upper floor less-exposed to storm damage. The outdoor space accommodates a pool that extends under the main building, and a bar and a barbecue area that backs on to the boat dock. 

The centerpiece of the home is a large, open courtyard, filled with plants, including rare orchids, and a specially designed water filtration system that helps create a mini ecosystem in the home. 

Another unique feature of the home is a 34-foot tower which gives the home views across the inland canal system to the North Sound. 

The home also features the high ceilings and distinctive carpentry of a traditional Jamaican great house.  

Mr. MacDonald said it had been an exciting project that allowed he and his team to be genuinely creative. 

He said he was so pleased with the results that he took the step of entering the design into the international competition and came out on top in the Cayman Islands and then in the Caribbean region. 

He said much of the inspiration for the design came from the couple themselves, and that his firm had worked with them to make their dream a reality. 

“That’s pretty much the essence of what we do,” he added.  

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An orchid courtyard is one of the home’s unique features.

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The house is elevated 16-feet off the ground to protect it from storms.

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