Part I: Anatomy of a building
Part II: Anatomy of a building
Part III: Anatomy of a building
Part V: Anatomy of a Building
Part VI: Anatomy of a Building
The fourth segment of a series about the new Solaris Avenue building looks at the health-conscious elements of Camana Bay and how they fit into New Urbanism design philosophy.
One of the key aims of New Urbanism planning is to raise people’s quality of life by creating better places to live and work. New Urbanism principles contribute to quality of life on a number of levels, including personal wellbeing.
Walkability, an important aspect of any New Urbanism development, is one that promotes health and wellbeing.
Jared Grimes, Camana Bay’s senior manager of design and development, concedes that until the development gets more residences built that it would be hard to call it a neighbourhood, but said Camana Bay very much follows the principles of New Urbanism when it comes to walkability.
“The office buildings are within walking distance of a lot of amenities, so that when it’s time to go to lunch, you can simply come down out of the office building and walk over to one of the restaurants within Camana Bay,” he said. “If you had some shopping you need to get done… you can walk out of your office building and get some shopping done on your way home.”
Currently, residents of Camana Bay’s 63 rental units can already live and work there. As more residences come on line and more retail stores open, people living and working in Camana Bay will increasingly be able to take care of many of their basic needs without having to get into a car and drive somewhere.
Making Camana Bay walkable isn’t just a matter of putting buildings and amenities in proximity to one another.
“We try to make Camana Bay as walkable as possible by being cogni
sant of the environment of Grand Cayman,” said Grimes. “We know it’s hot, we know it’s humid, so we try to give you as much shade as we can and we try to keep the breezes going.”
Lush landscaping adds to the aesthetic of Camana Bay, but it also serves a shading function as well.
“In Grand Cayman in the summer, when the breezes stop, without shade, it’s brutal,” said Grimes, adding that the palm trees in the Town Centre Crescent near the Solaris Avenue Building were specifically selected because of their wide, shade-providing canopies.
Although the breezes become lighter in summer, Camana Bay has been designed to maximise breeze in the walkways.
“Whenever we place a building at Camana Bay we try to place it in such a way that it’s not going to impact the wind from filtering all the way through Camana Bay,” said Grimes, adding that the breezes add to the livability of Camana Bay.
In addition to keeping buildings cooler inside, proper shading can bring better light into a building.
“You can get a reflective light so that you’re not getting direct light,” said Grimes. “When you’re bringing in natural light, it enhances the quality of the space inside the building.”
Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd. Senior Construction Engineer Roddy Graham said the goal of good lighting was to create a better working environment for people.
“The best thing you can do with folk is put them in an office with neutral light and very long views,” he said, adding that the psychological benefits can make staff more productive.
Graham said the Solaris Avenue building was designed to maximise the amount of indirect natural light coming in.
“It’s little things like that that make huge differences,” he said.
Quality of life is also affected by factors like personal safety; something Camana Bay addresses significantly.
“Our spaces are designed in such a way that the buildings and the places that we build aren’t inherently dangerous and you’re not going to hurt yourself by being in Camana Bay,” said Grimes. “In terms of safety and the feeling of safety, that generally comes back to the idea that people are safe where they feel safe, and when they feel safe, they generally congregate and cluster.”
Keeping Camana Bay well lit is an important part of making people feel safe.
“There really aren’t many dark places at Camana Bay during the night,” said Grimes. “We’ve gone through a lot of effort to make sure that Camana Bay is well lit in the evening without being excessively bright.”
Grimes said there is safety in numbers so Camana Bay hosts events and leases to tenants designed to attract people to come there at all times of the day.
In addition to the very visible presence of security personnel, Camana Bay also has elaborate security systems.
“We also have plenty of eyes in the skies around Camana Bay,” Grimes said. “Camana Bay, the vast majority of it, is under constant video surveillance. We’re happy to be able to tout that… every public space in Camana Bay is practically under camera. Solaris Avenue in and of itself adds more camera coverage to Camana Bay.”
Be happy and healthy
New Urbanism principles also aim to develop places where people will thrive and enjoy their lives.
“One of [New Urbanism’s] major goals is to actually foster community through interaction,” Grimes said. “You’re living where you’re working, you’re working where you’re shopping, you’re shopping where you’re living… and you come into daily contact over and over and over again with the same people.”
Grimes said Camana Bay is designed to promote community.
“I think it would be a little overreaching to say architecture and urban planning can make a community, but through poor architecture and poor planning you can destroy community,” he said. “So what we’ve tried to do is create a development that doesn’t destroy community and our hope is that by not destroying it… it helps foster community by bringing you in contact with the people you live with and work with and shop with.”
Camana Bay promotes a general sense of wellness, as well. Many of the retail tenants have been chosen because they offer healthy lifestyle choices.
“We… decided we needed to have very strategically driven leasing in place for our retail spaces to bring in a mix of amenities that were going to cater to the wellness of the people who live and work in Camana Bay,” Grimes said. “A fitness centre or a wellness centre has always been part of the amenity package we’ve hoped to provide. And we’re happy to have Anytime Fitness and CrossFit on the list to be able to say we checked the box.”
In addition, Jessie’s Juice will sell fresh juices, smoothies and healthy snacks. The Bay Market, an organic grocery store, is also set to open.
Camana Bay also offers attractive public spaces for walking or cycling. There’s a linear park that runs in between Esterley Tibbetts Highway and West Bay Road where people can walk or sit in peaceful surroundings.
Because New Urbanism fosters community and communities tend to evolve based on the needs and desires of those living there, the goal is for Camana Bay to grow organically through the years. The walkability of the Town Centre Crescent’s boardwalk and the useful public spaces of the nearby courtyards have already proven to be
a place that has spurred public activity that occurred organically – BabyBuggyFit offers outdoor fitness classes at Camana Bay for new mothers who work out while pushing around their babies around in prams. In addition, Camana Bay promotes healthy sporting events like the annual Tower Run and Resolution Day in January.
Director of Leasing Rick Cobb said Camana Bay’s lifestyle environment helps Camana Bay attract top companies.
“Employees are able to take full advantage of a wide range of activities and services – from shopping, restaurants and the cinema, to fitness, a host of free events and activities and even medical services,” he said.
Cobb said employee recruitment and retention are strengthened by the work surroundings at Camana Bay, which include “ample parking, peaceful courtyards with tranquil water features and parks for taking work breaks or even meetings”.
“This focus on keeping employees happy and grounded is something that executives say will pay dividends well into the future, as corporations who put down roots here will undoubtedly recruit more competitively, retain more employees, as well as foster increased creativity and productivity within the work environment.”