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Roatan Homes
Camponado's Beacon of Hope, Utila
One house shines as an example how individual homes in a poor community could be

The majority of the Camponado houses sit on marshland filled in with iron shore coral brought in from Pumpkin Hill and dirt around the island. Luis built curving concrete garden trims, filled them with the best soil he could find for his papaya, banana and coco plants. "I like to come back from work and just sit in the garden," says Luis sitting on his patio. His house sits like an oasis of tranquility in a sea of loud.
Even though sometimes his neighbors ask him advice about their gardens, Luis's house had little impact on how Camponado looks. It is still a crowded and uninspiring. Whilst some residents would perhaps enjoy spending time in their gardens, playing poker and soaking up the sun, for many this is simply not possible. The houses typically fill the lots edge to edge giving little room for gardens, let alone a place to relax and plant a garden or a tree.
While the real estate market has been booming on Utila for three-four years, the prices in the mostly latino and poor area of Camponado have risen most dramatically. When Luis bought his 40 foot by 70 foot piece in 1999 for Lps. 500. Today a piece next door is sold for 100 times that and lot prices of Lps. 100,000 are not uncommon.
Camponado is the engine of Utila. Here live its' construction laborers, maids and cooks. Without Camponado's population Utila's tourist service industry would come to a stand still. Gritty, crowded, blasting ranchera music and filled with the constant noise of hammering and, Camponado is the underbelly of the island. The Camponado neighborhood is not the prettiest place, but without it the rest of the island just couldn't function.

Not willing to follow stereotypes, Luis Zelaya has followed his own drummer. Luis, 29 and originally from Olancho, moved to Utila eight ears ago and decided to build his home in Camponado- Utila's working class and poorest neighborhood. He made the construction his way, putting to practice what he learned during years of working as a carpenter building homes for foreigners.
While most Hondurans work at construction sites of homes built to US standards and learn different building techniques, few of them apply what they learned when the time comes to construct their own homes.
Amongst the rectangular Camponado houses with PVC lined posts and corrugated roofs Luis' house easily stands out. It is made out of pine with rounded edges and creative detailing for the railings and staircase. Luis worked with three other carpenters to build the house in three weeks. "I just like this type of construction," says Luis.
Palmetto Bay Plantation
Caribbean Gothic

The three architects made an effort to use indigenous Paya Indian and African elements in the design and materials. Bobby Riemann and Ben Welcome built the structure which serves as the community center, restaurant and landmark from sea.
Dozens of columns constructed from 2-by-4-inch and 2-by-6-inch timber reach as high as 35 feet. Two independent roofs stretch over the 60-by-60-foot space.

The only vertical planes interrupting the floor plan are the three volumes: kitchen, office, and bathrooms with pantry. Pastel-colored wood braces the structure leaving it exposed. Many door and wall louvers serve to naturally ventilate the enclosed spaces.
The wood pavilion floats 4 feet above the sandy soil. The view of the sea only 300 feet away is framed by the gothic like trusses. Like stalagmites, some columns stop before hitting the plane of the floor. A ridge skylight provides additional lighting under the large plane of the roof. Wooden lamp fixtures are incorporated to integrate the design.
The edges of the wood are often polished: guardrails, counters, pool border. Wooden downspouts and wood gutters funnel the water away from the wood shingle roof. Cotton baldachins and lamp shades made out of bamboo swing in the breeze that almost always makes its way into the pavilion.

Palmetto Bay Resort's restaurant pavilion is reminiscent of architect Faye Jones' work in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. The context of the American Midwest has found a Caribbean application. There is a marine, rustic feel to the space. To the visitor, the building provides a feeling of being both inside and outside. Nearby, palm trees are just additional columns and trusses of the pavilion.
The inspiration for the building's architectural expression came from Bay Islands' vernacular architecture. Architects Curtis Worth Fentress, James Henry Bradburn and Gary Charmer came up with the vignette for the design of the structure.
New Port Royal
The House by the Creek

Terry Kyle and Patrice Heller didn't quite expect their 20 foot by 80 foot house to grow into a crafted piece of art. "It got bigger and bigger as we begun to enjoy the place," explains Heller. The house's size began to accommodate the couple's lifestyle, as they are building beach homes and a fly-fishing lodge. The couple is setting a wood workshop to produce cigar boxes and architectural elements that originated during the design of the original house.
The couple's Mango Creek House in New Port Royal was designed by Mauricio Castaneda in 1995. Don Mauricio Molina, 82 and a master carpenter, has been continuously working on the house. Working in a workshop not far from the main house, Molina produced the house's dozen doors, windows, furniture pieces and shelving.
The main house has three bedrooms, four baths and a kitchen. Painted masonry block provides the base of the house. But, it is in the quality of woodwork that the house shows its most revealing quality. Almost every door in the house is decoratd by a unique marine and fauna carving made by Ricardo Pereira from La Ceiba.
The best thing about the house is that it works," says Patrice Heller. The 7,500 square foot house is surrounded by windows and louvers. Prevailing Eastern breeze enters the house and cools it down.
With the building constructed on a 30 degree slope, the 6,500 square foot Rosita wood deck wraps the house on three sides, creating semiprivate spaces among the tree canopies.

Unique mahogany and Rosita patio furniture organize the outside spaces. Marble chips from Tegucigalpa were used for flooring throughout the house.
The house's need for electricity is generated by solar panels and supplemented by a diesel generator. Water is supplied from a 28-foot spring fed well. A small creek runs through the property, providing opportunities to create ponds and inspired landscape architecture.
The Slow House

The house more floats above the hill than rests on it. Wooden walkways connect the pods elevated on stilts. The compound roofs overlap and float creating terraces that serve as dining areas and patios. There are commanding views of the North shore from the dining room space, numerous house decks and even from a shower.
The base of the main compound is made of concrete block. The remaining walls and roofs are made from pressure-treated pine and covered with washed-down paint to achieve the rustic feel. "I tried to go with stuff that was already rusted. So, after a couple years, it looked just right," said Allen.
The five-compound house was designed by Roatan designer Hal Sorrenti and the bulk of construction took 15 month to complete. Cedar doors and windows were made locally and, according to Allen, cost a third of "basic Home Depot stuff". Moropalan Cabinets used in the kitchen and study were brought in from the mainland and custom-designed for the house.
Floor tiles came from San Pedro and the brass window hardware were found in India via internet. Dining chairs were made in Philipines and pieces of driftwood and marine roap were picked up along his island trips, serving as garden sculptures and lampposts.
"Do you know why I called it Villa Allento?" asked Allen, "It's because it took a long time to build and it's a place to take things slowly." The house can be viewed and reserved at

The red, aluminum roofs can be seen on the approach to the Pollytilly Hill. Situated on a slope overlooking Pollytilly, the house always has a cool breeze, no insect problems and commands some spectacular views over the north shore of Roatan. "I wanted something that fitted with the island, not like a resort," said Dan Allen, owner of Villa Allento.
Dan and Debi Allen are almost retired. Dan is preparing a place where he can settle down with his wife; that should happen within five years. In the meantime, for ten months out of the year, the house serves as a vacation rental.

"It takes me about three days for me to slow down to island life," says Allen who works as hi-tech industry consultant in Colorado.

Jade Sea Horse, Utila
A Thinker’s Delight "To me this architecture, my artwork is very normal. It is natural and I can't understand why everyone doesn't see it that way"

Over time, woodwork became an eccentric and expensive thing to produce. Keller's wood details are intricate, time consuming and sometimes very original. Keller points to a zigzagging railing leading to the second story cabin: "Have you ever seen a railing like this? If you do, let me know."
As everything had to be done as an experiment, there are several "happy accidents" that occurred during construction of the Jade Seahorse. The spiked roof on top of one of the bungalows is really just a giant air vent meant to eliminate the excess heat that was created when the bungalow was first built. A blue suspension bridge was built as an afterthought, overlooking the necessity to create a path between two bungalows.
There seems to be everything there and perhaps too much. There is an envisioned pond, tension bridges, suspension bridge, grotto, a tower. Both artist and recycler, Keller uses pieces of wood that were salvaged from old water tanks, boats, old doors.
"It drives me crazy. They have to compare and put a name on everything," says Keller about tourists trying to "classify" his spatial garden. The garden is often compared to works done by Antonio Gaudi, but is more reminiscent of less known architects and artists such as Bruce Goff or even Frank Lloyd Wright.
Jade Seahorse is created as a metaphor of symbiosis of marine and land environments.
Sea items are present throughout the garden: portholes, masts ropes and sea shells. Walking up a hill, one leaves the marine theme for more terrestrial landscape. A cave that is currently under construction serves as a transition, a place of rebirth, from marine land to "night land."
The Chinese marbles were bought in Utila in boxes of 5000 for $40. Keller estimates.

Neil Keller says no part of his Utila Garden landscape, named Jade Seahorse, was planned. Construction progressed "step by step, porch by porch, building by building." The garden works on several different scales and levels. The overall shapes of cabins relate harmoniously to the triangles, pentagons, hexagons and octagons (no, there are no heptagons used). The created space is about contemplation and discovery.
With a $500 down payment, Keller bought a small Utilan house and lot in 1993. "The man who sold me this house has never come back. I keep asking him, but I think he regrets [selling] it for some reason," says Keller. When asked about the total money he has spent creating the garden Keller answered: "Do you want me to faint? I can't tell. I really don't know."
"Over the last hundred years people have gotten used to less and less interesting architecture," says Keller.
West Bay
Closer to The Sky

The tree was planted 120 years ago by the great grandfather of Foster Diaz. Building the little hotel and a tree house, on then quiet West Bay beach, was like planting a stake for Foster. He was going to keep the land that his father and grandfather owned. Eventually, Foster became the only black person that didn't sell his West Bay beach property. "It's easy to sell. (…) The key is to find a way to live off the land you own," says Foster.
Built with pressure treated pine, the house uses a minimum of nails. Foster's father requested that the mango tree was not to be scarred. The four foot diameter tree sits 150 feet from the water. The site used to be that of a sugar cane mill Foster's grandfather, Christopher, operated. There is still sugarcane nearby, but little else in West Bay remains as it was 30 years ago. "I sometimes still go there to meditate," says Foster. There is a lot of privacy 45 feet above the beach, and for that reason alone, the tree house is often chosen for a honeymoon getaway.
The 14 foot by 16 foot structure is suspended 45 feet above ground. Screened windows are at all sides of the room. Two corners accommodate a shower and a sink and there is even a small balcony. The breeze keeps the house cool and birds songs wake you up in the morning. Foster resisted the idea of putting air conditioning in it. Hurricane Mitch did little damage to the structure, but in 1997 the tree house was remodeled: electricity, plumbing and stairs were put in. Now electrical wire, PVC pipe for water and waste meander through the trunks of the mango tree.
Some houses are like their owner's lives; tree houses are more like their owner's souls. Tree houses are statements of the mind reflecting the dreams of their builders. They are expressions of their owner's childhood dreams. Their design isn't always practical, or even beautiful, but they often are a realization of a vision the person had as a child: to live up from the ground, in their own, separate world.

On Roatan, one doesn't often hear the word meditate. The word so many like to use is paradise. Perhaps, in paradise, there is no need to reflect, or look for one's center. But, if you ever find yourself needing to quietly think of life, look up a small tree house on West Bay beach. After all, this is why it was built.
Foster Diaz built the mango tree house as a place to get away and meditate. He undertook the project with a friend, Gene Holms; after two months of work, the tree house was ready. It was 1983 and the young owner didn't mind climbing the tree house with a rope. The tree house is carried by one of three main trunks of a mango tree.
A Wooden Mosaic

For Cheryl and Julio Galindo, there were several pre-requisites in designing their third home on the island: no stairs and a goal of using as many materials native to Honduras as possible. A vision that wasn't realized was a tower serving as the dominating feature of the 6,400 square foot house.
Throughout the house, 20 hardwoods native to Honduras were used for floors, cabinets, decorative trims and furniture. There are the typical hardwoods as mahogany, cedar, teak and cypress and the much less common redondo or rosalia.
Kitchen counter-tops are from granite cut and polished in Honduras. The stone floors of the patios and pool areas provide a contrast to the warmth of the untreated hardwoods.
"The only thing that we imported were the windows and roofing material," says Julio Galindo. The Anderson windows and "hardy shakes" (a mixture of concrete and asphalt) proved to be very resistant to the moisture and salt of the sea, just a 300' from the house.
With all the children living independently, the house serves as retreat and provides an environment to pursue passions: collecting sculpture and paintings for Cheryl Galindo and researching palm and fruit trees.
While Cheryl Galindo took charge of the house, Julio Galindo's interests focused on the garden and 47 acres of grounds surrounding it. The garden is extensive with a collection of over 100 types of palm trees, dozens of tropical fruit trees and flowers. No existing trees were cut during the construction of the house.
The 120' by 110' house was built in 14 months and completed in 1996. "We even had to stop for a month because of the rain," says Julio Galindo. Builder Boyd Svoboda poured the foundations and contractor Nelson Abbott completed the construction of the four bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom house.

Working in collaboration with the architects, the owners of this West Bay Beach home experimented with a variety of hardwoods and stone. Architects Maria Eugenia Toro and Roberto Laps from Tegucigalpa helped in conceptualizing a vision of a low-lying house profile surrounded and shaded by palm trees and fruit trees. It is like living in a wooden mosaic of a garden. The entire floor plan is built around a swimming pool and a patio accessible from the four sides of the house.
aria Elena San Martin created a mosaic at the beach entrance to the house. Each bathroom is decorated with tiles inspired by water themes.
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