it's a style that never actually seems to go out of style. Most of the first private residences that were built as the Keys became more inhabited were built with the Caribbean and West Indian architectural theme in mind (Keith, 2002).
The idea of keeping homes on stilts has changed, as was previously mentioned. However, living right on the ground is still something that most building codes in the Keys will not allow for (Keith, 2002). Most of these places are only a few feet above sea level, so flooding is very common. Changes to recent building codes have allowed for the floor of the home to be closer to the ground, however, resulting in shorter stilts (Keith, 2002). In addition, that stilted area can now be enclosed. It cannot be used for a living space, though, and must only be used as storage. A lot of people use this space for a garage and keep their cars in it, which is perfectly acceptable under the standard building codes (Keith, 2002). Storing a lot of things in this space is still impractical, however, due to the threat of flooding and the need to move the stored items to higher ground.
High rises and condominiums are also seen in the Keys (Keith, 2002). It is no surprise that when people eventually run out of room to build out, they are going to build up. However, most of these are limited as to how tall they can be, and the building codes were changed not that long ago to ensure that buildings in the future remained lower than they were allowed to be in the past (Keith, 2002). This helps to preserve the views of the ocean and scenery, and it also helps to keep these buildings from becoming severely damaged in wind storms such as hurricanes (Keith, 2002). The conch houses are still the most prominent architectural features, though. Some of these are restored from the olden days. Other are built today with more modern methods, but they are still made to look like the older style homes that started out on the island, since these homes reflect the heritage of Key West.
The Villa lot of the state of Florida has villas (Caemmerer, 1992). They are popular around Orlando and other big cities where the cost of living is very high and many rich people live. These villas have not really caught on that much in Key West (Caemmerer, 1992). There are some villa-style homes, but most of the land area in the Keys is already taken up. Because of that, individuals who want to build often have limited amounts of room. Usually, people buy a home that already exists and renovate it to their liking (Caemmerer, 1992). Building codes regulate what they are able to do, and it is difficult to create the look of a villa when the home is on stilts (Caemmerer, 1992). Still, however, Key West has something for almost everyone architecturally from all of the influences that it has had during its many years from the first settlers until now.
As can be seen from the above discussion, the conch house is still by far the most popular home structure in Key West. These are safer in floods and hurricanes, and they hold up well to all kinds of tropical elements. They stay cooler in the summer due to the way that they are designed, and heating them in the wintertime is not difficult because Key West stays so warm. There are no concerns about snow or freezing temperatures, and so heating is very inexpensive. The home itself is generally planned around the best way to keep it cool, not warm.
These homes are also aesthetically pleasing to most people and they have a lot to offer to the right person who is looking for a home to call his or her own in Key West or one of the other islands that make up the Florida Keys. They reflect the heritage of the area and the settlers who came from many other places to make their homes there on Key West. They also reflect the island life and the beauty of a climate that is so very tropical and sunny and warm most of the time. The conch house is not the only game in town, though, when it comes to where a person can live on Key West.
There are other architectural styles and influences that have crept in throughout the years, and these continue to move across the Keys, making subtle changes as people build new homes and restore and remodel older ones. There is limited space, but that does not seem to stop people from wanting to live there and from wanting to vacation there. Everyone seems to like Key West for various reasons, especially if those people are from a more Northern climate where it is much cooler. They will likely be looking for the sunshine and warmth of the tropical life. The architectural style of Key West remains distinctive, however, and will likely continue to do so, well into the future.
Caemmerer, Alex. (1992). The Houses of Key West. Pineapple Press
Goodwin-Nguyen, Sarah. (2008). Key West (Tourist Town Guides). Channel Lake, Inc.
Hemmel, David L, and Smith, Judi S. (2004). Living in the Key West style…