Press > Ghana Studies Bermuda’s Water System

Ghana Studies Bermuda’s Water System


Ghana is studying Bermuda’s system of collecting rain to help solve their water crisis.

The Ghanaian High Commissioner to the UK, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, recently visited the offices of OBMI Bermuda and met with regional director Colin Campbell.

Mr Campbell gave a presentation on how Bermuda uses water harvesting through tanks, underground tanks, and water catchments.

Dr Leonard Teye-Botchway, the Bermudian Consular for Ghana, told Bernews that clean drinking water is a problem in various areas of Ghana and the Bermuda system could be a solution.

He said, “The notion of using rainwater harvesting to provide sustainable access to clean water in Ghana has been reviewed by a number of organizations. While the country has both surface water and groundwater resources, infrastructure for treating and distributing that water is underdeveloped. The country faces many infrastructure challenges, including climate change, and while total rainfall in Ghana is high, the country also experiences extended dry periods.”

Mr Campbell told Bernews that the total rainfall in Ghana goes from 40 to 80 inches per year depending on the region, which is comparable to Bermuda’s 55 inches per year.

The party visited an old traditional Bermudian building and a house under construction to observe firsthand how the houses were built in the past and how building has evolved over the years.

Dr Teye-Botchway said, “The team was particularly fascinated by the scale of the underground tank for the new construction and appreciated how that could be very beneficial in most Ghanaian properties with regards to achieving a sustainable water supply.”

Mr Campbell felt it would work well in Ghana and help reduce costs. “Water harvesting would allow for people to be self-contained and not to rely on a state or the civil infrastructure.”

He said an exchange could start between architects in Bermuda and Ghana to talk about the feasibility of doing it in that country.

Written by Don Burgess
Photo courtesy of Alex Masters
Originally published on Bernews

Press > Turning a house into a home

Turning a house into a home


There is no doubt buying a house comes with a great sense of accomplishment. But transforming that house into your ‘forever home’, is on a completely different level of pride and satisfaction. Unlike the real estate market, there is no particular high-season for home renovations in Bermuda. Of course starting in the cooler months would certainly put a smile on your contractors face, but once you’ve decided that your ready…then the time is right. At that point, there are two fundamental steps that will determine the success of your project. One is establishing a realistic budget. The other is selecting an industry expert who has the credentials, influence and reputation of turning dreams into reality. How do you find an expert who holds those valuable qualities? By following these tips from a global leader in architecture and design…

  • Ask around for referrals – whether at a cocktail party or BBQ on the beach, home renovation is always an entertaining topic. Fittingly, gathering valuable information and creditable referrals are easier than you think.

  • Speak to past & present clients – unlike referrals, these are the folks who actually had (or in the process of having) a project completed. Rule of thumb is if they love the outcome, they’ll be more inclined to talk about their experience.

  • Visit previous projects – go around to homes of friends and family to view their completed projects. Visiting commercial projects completed by certain firms, is also an excellent way to gauge the quality and design of work. For those interested in hiring a landscape architect, a stroll through intricately landscaped grounds can bring much inspiration for your landscape project.

  • Meet the team – You will work extremely close with your architect, landscape architect or interior designer. Building a relationship based on trust and integrity, will be paramount in the success of your project. Initial meetings with potential design teams are highly recommended to establish a sense of confidence towards the firm.

With over 80 years of experience in shaping the architectural style of Bermuda, OBM International certainly checks all the boxes. Our team of award winning professionals are dedicated to providing each client with the best solutions to suit their style, budget and timelines. Whether your project requires an architect, interior designer, landscape architect or master planning, the OBMI team will work with you to encapsulate your vision. Through that philosophy, OBMI has achieved the reputation of being a leader in creating ‘forever homes’.

For more tips, the latest design trends and news about OBMI, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by sending us a message at

Originally Published in the Bermuda Real Estate Handbook

Press > Teaching Boosted By Design

Teaching Boosted By Design


When your mission is to empower students who learn best in a non-traditional school setting, the most logical approach is to create a learning environment that is equally as unique.

That is precisely what transpired when the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning (BCCL) turned to Vanessa Bean, Senior Interior Designer at OBM International in Bermuda. Ms. Bean has worked on multiple projects within Cedar House, and used her extensive knowledge and expertise to meticulously transform a vacant office space into a leading-edge learning facility. As described by Ms. Bean, “It was a blank canvas. There was no evidence of the past outside of the fact you could see the beams. Everything was cleared - the ceiling, the floor. Outside of one or two restrooms, it was completely gutted.

The project commenced in 2017, and one of the key objectives of the design was to create a space that was flexible. Ms. Bean said, “It had to have the opportunity to be small spaces, yet big spaces in the same day.” That meant the classroom walls could not be stationary, they needed to be quickly adjustable to accommodate the teaching spaces required for any given day.

To deliver on the flexibility component, mobile walls that divide one space from another, were erected throughout the BCCL. Ms. Bean explained “in the class room area the walls do not close right off, so there is still that feeling of transparency throughout the space. The mobile walls work on a ceiling mounted pivot system that allows the walls to fold back and out of the way, opening up the spaces when necessary.” The diversity of the space allows the client to host educational seminars for large groups, hold school wide meetings, and facilitate yoga sessions with views of Victoria Park.

To enhance the concept of a non-traditional learning environment, the BCCL design includes four small group rooms that can easily be divided up into eight separate spaces. This allows BCCL to provide the unique one on one training that is required for their students. It also encourages full use of the BCCL space as the learning environment that extends beyond the classroom.

One of the necessary elements of the design, was to provide one-on-one spaces. “You will have a student who will be part of the overall class, but they may require a meeting with a reading counsellor or an occupational therapist,” Ms. Bean said. “They use the small group rooms for training sessions to help the student overcome some of the challenges that they have.

The design did not stop at the classroom settings. The restrooms were also in scope, and had to be redesigned to incorporate room for changing garments for various activities. Ms. Bean said this was a sensitive component of the project, as the requirement was to make them safe spaces. “When thinking about SCARS and child protection, we thought about how the doors should be placed. That was a big design driver for me. We must create safe spaces.”

Another essential element of the design, was the creation of a bright and inviting atmosphere for students. Maple doors with glass insets were used to enhance the classroom’s airy feel, and increase the visibility into the classroom from the hallway. The maple tones also added a bit of warmth into the each classroom. At same time, two classrooms situation on the Victoria Street side were designed for students to learn in the natural light. The central classroom has glass on either side, and when standing in the middle of the building, you can see all the way through to the street. “We tried to do as much glass as possible without breaking the budget,” Ms. Bean said.

The traditional lighting included 2x2 LED fixtures, as well as some four-inch recessed fixtures that Ms. Bean described the color as 4000k, “Which more is like white light. You’re not going to fall asleep, but you’re not going to get a headache. It’s right in-between.” Additional lights utilized in the project, came with fixtures to set different moods depending on the tasks that are trying to be accomplished.

For the flooring, a vinyl, wood-like floor in a warm grey tone was used, “It provides a clean atmosphere and feels a little warmer than tile.” Ms. Bean went on to say, “The vinyl was a better way to go than carpet as the students have yoga to help practice mindfulness. The entire space can be packed up, then cleared out for yoga mats, which is pretty exciting.” Dimmable lighting also helps by setting the mood for this period of mindfulness.

The colour theme was blue, with a mix of turquoise and a poolside blue in the main spaces. It is a color provides the perfect harmony of calming and motivating. You may not get a spa-like feeling when you enter, but you certainly won’t feel like you’ve entered a cold classroom either.

By the time the project was completed earlier this year, OBMI along with the collaborative project team had created a unique, innovative and stimulating learning environment. The design matched the needs of the students and transformed the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning into the ideal setting to employ their cutting edge teaching techniques.

Originally Published in Building Bermuda Magazine

Press > Building in Paradise

Building in Paradise


The inspiration to buy or build a home in Bermuda is becoming increasingly popular among visitors to the island. Designing a personal vision of an island dream home is exhilarating but can be daunting at the same time. The key to a successful project is thoroughly understanding the regulations and timelines involved with building a home in Bermuda.

Bermuda construction is vastly different than that found in North America, Europe and even the Caribbean. The island’s Building Codes and Planning Legislation for residential and commercial properties are meticulous and involve several vital components. A visit to the Department of Planning website is the primary source of reliable information, while consulting with local industry experts is considered the more direct path to gaining valuable knowledge.

Setting a budget and having realistic expectations is equally essential to the success of the project. The island’s geographical location must also be taken into account. When planning and designing a home, confirming materials and local on-island availably is essential. Imported materials, client purchased finishes, fixtures and furnishings, all impact the building schedule and budget. Timing the delivery of materials is an art, therefore securing a local contractor, architect and interior designer is crucial to ensuring it all flows smoothly throughout the entire process. Local professionals will work as the client’s advocate and liaise with the Planning Department to attain all the necessary permits. They will also ensure the building process adheres to government guidelines and codes.

In addition to the structural and interior components of the home, the exterior landscaping of the property is a quintessential feature of a Bermuda home. Local landscape architects are skilled in creating a sense of place by exploiting Bermuda’s native and indigenous flora and fauna. Professional landscaping regardless of the scale, adds curb appeal, visual aesthetics and offers long-term return on any investment.

Building a home in Bermuda may be a test of endurance for the property owner, however by setting practical timelines, securing local experts and recognizing the options, having a dream home in paradise is rewarding and worthwhile.

Department of Planning website:

Originally Published in Destination Bermuda Magazine

Press > Designed for Sucess – Francis Mussenden

Designed for Sucess – Francis Mussenden


OBM International is pleased to announce that their intern, Francis Mussenden was awarded the Stanley G. Kennedy Architectural Award by the Institute of Bermuda Architects (I.B.A).

To qualify for the award, the candidate must be a Bermudian student who is enrolled in a programme leading to an accredited degree in architecture. Preference is given to candidates who have completed at least their first year of study in an accredited programme, and who demonstrates a high degree of academic merit. This year, Francis was the sole recipient of this prestigious award, which is accompanied by $8,000.00 to assist with education costs.

The Institute of Bermuda Architects established a fund enabling an annual award to be made to one or more Bermudian student. The award winner is selected by the Education Committee as appointed by the Council of the I.B.A

The award is named after Stanley G. Kennedy, an architect who devoted much of his life to advancing educational and professional standards in the architectural profession both in Bermuda and in Jamaica.

Francis, a graduate of Warwick Academy, currently attends The University of the West of England in Bristol. He just completed his first year of studies, with the goal of graduating with a BA (Hons) Architecture and Planning in the year 2022. Francis is in his third year of summer internship with OBMI.

OBMI was established in 1936, by two motivated architects from McGill University, Wilfred Onions and Valmer Bouchard. In 1953, they were joined by John McCulloch. That was the beginning of OBM. In late 1990’s the firm transformed into OBM International (OBMI), in response to increasing global project delivery.

Today OBMI is a global architecture and design firm, with a diversified portfolio. The Bermuda office is home to award winning architects and designers, and run by Michele Smith, Managing Director and Senior Interior Designer, and Colin Campbell, Regional Director, MIBA Senior Architect.

Originally published in The Royal Gazette

Press > Designing the Future – 2019 OBMI Summer Internships

Designing the Future – 2019 OBMI Summer Internships


Each year, OBM International (OBMI) offers summer employment to aspiring students studying architecture and Interior Design. Throughout the internship, students are afforded the resources, guidance and practical experience in the arena of architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and master planning. The main objective is to enrich and empower each student, in hopes they will be able to apply these skills with their studies and beyond.

This year three exceptional interns were given the invaluable opportunity; Ms. Clara James, Ms. Erin Fleming and Mr. Francis Mussenden.

Ms. Clara James was recommended to OBMI from the Department of Workforce Development. She currently attends Daniel’s Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto. She is enrolled in the Specialist in Architectural Studies: Comprehensive Stream Program. In September Ms. James will be entering into her third year. She anticipates to graduate in 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Studies. Ms. James is a Bermuda High School alumni, where she earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB).

“My internship with OBMI has been one of the most rewarding opportunities. One very exciting learning experience that I have had was being able to present my interior design ideas to a client along with the help of the senior interior designer, Vanessa Bean. My future goals are to obtain my Master’s degree in architecture and also obtain an interior design certification. After my studies I would love to come back to OBMI and work as either an architect or interior designer or both.”

Ms. Erin Fleming approached OBMI, after researching several architecture and design firms on the island. She found OBMI to be the most reputable, and displayed robust experience in the hospitality and healthcare industry. Ms. Fleming is currently enrolled in the Interior Design program at Humber College in Toronto, Canada. She will be going into her fourth and final year this September, and will graduate in spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Interior Design Degree. Post-graduation, her goal is to design healthcare spaces that encompass both aesthetics and function. Ms. Fleming graduated in 2016 from Cedar Bridge Academy with five GCSEs.

“The reason I chose OBMI to complete this work term is because I was confident that I would learn from the best on the island. OBMI is known for their outstanding work in Hospitality, Healthcare and residential projects. What I enjoy most about working at OBMI is the friendly office environment and the exposure I gained to Bermuda’s unique architecture. Everyone is friendly and willing to assist their colleague in any way possible. As a student I was embraced by the team. I thoroughly enjoyed utilizing the design skills I’ve learned in school in projects that improve Bermuda’s built environment.”

Mr. Francis Mussenden is celebrating his third year with OBMI. Mr. Mussenden currently attends The University of the West of England in Bristol. He just completed his first year of studies, and is on track to graduate with a BA (Hons) Architecture and Planning in the year 2022. Mr. Mussenden is a Warwick Academy class of 2017 alumni. Most recently, Mr. Mussenden was awarded the Stanley G. Kennedy Architectural Award by the Institute of Bermuda Architects (I.B.A). The award is presented to a Bermudian student(s) enrolled in a programme leading to an accredited degree in architecture. Equally, the candidate must have completed at least one year of studies, and demonstrates a high degree of academic merit. Mr. Mussenden was the sole recipient of this prestigious award, which included a monetary component to assist with education costs. The award is named after Stanley G. Kennedy, an architect who devoted much of his life to advancing educational and professional standards in the architectural profession both in Bermuda and in Jamaica.

“I enjoy that OBMI encourages students to challenge themselves. I started interning at OBMI back in 2017, and I have come to know so much about the architectural world of Bermuda. I’m very grateful for being able to do the “behind-the-scenes” work like going to Planning dept. and Fire dept. to submit drawings. OBMI is a very welcoming firm. Working in the office over the past three summers has helped improve my confidence, which has ultimately reflected in my work ethic in university. I’m very grateful and proud to say I’ve worked for a firm such as OBMI and I would encourage any student with a passion in architecture to do the same.”

OBMI was established in Bermuda in 1936. Today they are a global architecture and design firm, with a diversified portfolio. The Bermuda office is home to award winning architects and designers, and run by Michele Smith, Managing Director and Senior Interior Designer, and Colin Campbell, Regional Director, MIBA Senior Architect.

Originally published on