On World Architecture Day, designers reflect on Camana Bay's hidden gems

The architects and designers know all of Camana Bay’s hidden treasures.

I recently met with Dart Senior Design Manager – Landscape Architecture Nicholas Forari Denney and Dart Senior Manager Landscape and Horticulture Whit Connors for a tour around Camana Bay. Our chat revolved around World Architecture Day, which is celebrated on 3 October and is meant to recognise and appreciate great architectural works.

I wanted to know all of the interesting insights into Camana Bay's design. They had plenty.

“See that?” asked Forari Denney​, pointing at a small grate worked seamlessly into the Canella Court landscaping. "There's a parking structure underneath us."

Turns out this picturesque spot where you've likely sat for lunch or taken a selfie in front of the fountain, sits atop a garage that is not available — or made known — to the public. Secret structures? Cool. And that was just the start.

Everything at Camana Bay has been meticulously planned, from the position and angle of buildings to maximise wind flow and shade, to the columns that resemble a ship’s mast and offer subtle reminders of the nearby Caribbean Sea. The various fountains are not just play areas for children but also serve as a navigation reference for visitors and they cool down surrounding areas.

“There's a lot of psychology in design,” Forari Denney said. “Triangulation is getting people here, then [that] attracts more people. So the more people you can get to come into your spaces, the better off then the surrounding businesses."

The Paseo in Camana Bay
Every aspect of Camana Bay's design has been meticulously planned, from the position and angle of the buildings, to the exact location of each tree and plant.

Originally envisioned in 1995, it took roughly 10 years of planning before construction began on Camana Bay. Architect and design firm Moore Ruble Yudell created the original master plan while many others have chipped in along the way.

“Hundreds,” said Forari Denney on the number of architects and designers who have had a hand in making Camana Bay what it is today.

“[It’s] all about walkable community,” he said. “Part of that master planning is making sure that in the Caribbean environment, that the pedestrian who’s moving through here can have an enjoyable experience."

It’s equal parts aesthetics and functionality all while incorporating Caribbean and Cayman culture. That includes the planting and maintenance of more than 40,000 individual plants around Camana Bay, spanning roughly 250 species. It also means creative structure shapes and the inclusion of paintings and mosaics.

“Instead of thinking about getting from point A to B, we're thinking about all the little steps in between and how the experience from one to the other makes you want to stay here," Connors said. "As well as just adding those bits and pieces — that flare — that you don't really get in a normal development that keeps you intrigued, keeps the mystery alive.”

As World Architecture Day comes and goes, both say the best way to pay the design teams a compliment is to say nothing at all.

“You see bad details, you experience good details because then you don't even see them," Forari Denney said. "So the more you don't notice the details and you just enjoy the place, the better. We've done our job.”

This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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