Hurricane Proof Cabana

A Caribbean resort approached Tentrix to assist in the redesign of a series of beachfront cabins that had been destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017.


Technically, this demountable tensile structure is not hurricane proof. In the binary world of fight or flight, we choose flight in the form of a demountable structure. Only a hardened bunker survives a Category 5 hurricane. Who wants to live in a pillbox?

A Caribbean resort approached Tentrix to assist in the redesign of  beachfront cabins destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Irma hit the British Virgin Islands hard with winds exceeding 180mp. Very little can survive that extreme wind force. Indeed, the island suffered over $70B in devastation with dozens of lives lost.

Demountable Tensile Structure

Weather is usually calm in the BVI. Temperatures hover at a balmy 80 degrees year-round with a gentle sea breeze, hence the resort attraction. Periodically, however, a massive hurricane destroys this island paradise and residents must rebuild. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s devastating.

Architects design stout enough to survive a hurricane, or cost-effectively enough to rebuild afterwards. Tensile architecture presents another option.

Under the principle of lightweight membrane architecture, Tentrix designed a demountable tensile structure that feels permanent, but can be dropped with a day’s notice. Violent storms give ample warning. After furnishings are removed, our Manta cabana essentially folds in on itself, the canopy is removed, and the unit is battened down and covered to wait out the storm.

When the sun returns, within a day the cabana can be restored to original condition so the resort can reopen for business.

This is a concept sketch only. We never reached the engineering stage, so go easy on the structural critique. The open air concept is not suited for any locale with temperature swings.

Demounting a structure like this is not something you’d do frequently. However, given the frequency of tropical storms the BVI, it’s an option worth considering. Unfortunately for us, this resort was snatched up by a large hotel group and our concept was outside the scope of their very narrow design parameters.

Bathroom and kitchenette are hidden behind the bed.