The Extreme House
The iron shore Flowers Bay house that started an island ‘pod trend’

February 1st, 2007
by Thomas Tomczyk


The front elevation of the house.

The front elevation of the house.

If you want to see a house exposed to the elements like no other in the Bay Islands, visit Flowers Bay. Thirty foot waves crash into the iron shore surrounding the structure and sometimes the spray leaps over the house completely.

The dramatically set house sits 50 meters from the Flowers Bay Methodist Church and is a visible and easily recognizable landmark. For Roatanians arriving on the island by plane it is the first, easily recognizable structure. It almost serves as a business card for the island. Originally named ‘Buckhorn Lodge’ after its owners, it is now called Pirates Cove House.

The house was built in 1995 by Willis Campbell using a strong balloon frame building system. 2″ by 6″ lumber vertically extends to the height of each house pod. “For a while it was the greatest house on the island,” says Hal Sorrenti, the house’s architect.

During construction, while Hal was away, the owner, John Walker, decided to move the house 30 feet closet to iron shore, placing several of the posts right on top of the exposed coral. BICA fined Walker $2,500 and in exchange the owner constructed a concrete bridge over a nearby gully for the use of community.

Originally pine shingles covered the roof, but over time nails rusted away and now asphalt shingles cover protect the house. Hot dipped galvanized nails were no match for the salt and water constantly bearing on the structure.

“We had to oil the light bulbs once a week,” remembers Hal who lived in the house and used it as a spec house for five years. “The house required a full time attendant. Baby oil was put on the fridge and an average lifespan for a toaster didn’t exceed six months.”

The five pods that form the house are painted in different colors inspired by surrounding landscape and longstanding structures visible from the site. A three bedroom, four bathroom house has a weathered marine look to it.

While the bath is in the open patio, the shower and laundry space are located in a separate, yellow colored pod. “The shower has been designed to be a ceremonial experience,” said Hal.

It was the house Hal Sorrenti created his Roatan architectural vocabulary: first concrete countertop, first ‘pod house,’ first covered in 12″ PVC posts. “It was a great learning experience,” says Hal. Commissioned by one of Hall’s old architectural patrons, Walker, the house quickly became and still remains a landmark. [/private]

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