William Maclay - Vermont Architects and Planners
Choices in Sustainability
Canopy: Cacique del Mar Masterplans - Costa Rica

Canopy: Cacique del Mar Masterplans - Costa Ricap

The Cacique del Mar Masterplans

The Canopy designs for Cacique del Mar have been generated by two overarching goals:

-Generating a unique connection to place, meaning Costa Rican people, culture, natural systems, and the particular dramatic site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Activities, landscape and architecture are integrated to make an engaging experience of the place.

-Interconnecting people, including transient tourists, native Cost Ricans and expatriates through interrelated activities in intimate villages, neighborhoods, landscape, and throughout the site and beyond.The underlying design philosophy for the design is based on two evolving design disciplines:


New Urbanism - pedestrian mixed use communities

-New Urbanism: New Urbanism and related design philosophies have been brought into resort development with a focus on pedestrian mixed use communities to create friendly places for people to follow a neighborhood and village lifestyle with reduced automobile use and associated sprawl. Sometimes New Urbanism generates an unreal, themed feeling in design that misses the character and unique qualities of the historic villages and towns that it wants to emulate.

-Green and Sustainable Design: These philosophies are more concerned with how people experience the unique nature, wildlife, climate, culture, and spirit of each place. This happens through design that integrates human comfort, climate, landscape, and building design that is unique to each region and site. Maximizing health of individuals, communities, and ecosystems, and minimizing energy, waste utilization, and resource consumption and limiting negative environmental impacts are core elements in the design process.Canopy design integration: Canopy's design philosophy is unique in combining the best elements of both philosophies in order to make enduring healthy and energizing places for people to visit, live and learn from.

Green and Sustainable Design

The Canopy design process is based on first gaining a deep understanding of regional and site natural systems, climate, people, culture, and history. The masterplan concept that was generated for Cacique del Mar was based on that understanding. Both masterplan concepts are based on a linear village which follows the ridges to maximize exposure to cooling breezes and view. This also follows the flattest topography to make pedestrians and vehicular access as easy as possible on this very steep site. At critical places inclinators are used for vertical transportation to the water. In both schemes where development is not located, restoration of trees and vegetation is proposed to enhance natural systems and wildlife, to provide shade for people and to enhance the ecosystems and beauty of the site. Both development plans propose village centers to encourage interaction of tourists, Costa Ricans, and expatriates. In the Canopy scheme, the hilltown village is specifically oriented to full time residents. In terms of architecture, bioclimatic design is recommended for buildings and has been used in generating the masterplan. Given the heat and humidity on this site, maximizing shading from sun and cooling with breezes is the primary bioclimatic site and building design strategy for the site. Thus siting of buildings should allow space for ventilation by breezes, roof overhangs for shading interior spaces, tall spaces for vertical circulation of air, ceiling fans for cooling and back up air conditioning for times where natural cooling strategies are not sufficient.

Thus both the Revolution and Canopy masterplans embody these principles, but vary in the extent that they pursue these directions. While the Canopy scheme has more square footage of new construction, it is clustered to maximize open land for recreation, wildlife, restore vegetation, and conservation. The Revolution scheme spreads out development to maximize views. The Canopy scheme incorporates agriculture to insure fresh organic food for village residents while the Revolution masterplan offers golf as a recreational amenity. The Revolution masterplan includes a spa hotel site, on a ridge where the Canopy plan proposes or village for full time residents. Both masterplans will reuse wastewater for irrigation, one for golf and one for landscaping and reforestation. Both schemes propose generation of power and hot water from biomass from local agricultural operations.