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Architect: John Doak

Why did you choose to become an architect?

My father Archie Doak was an architect and on the weekends he would bundle the family into our Morris Cowley and we’d be transported off on a ‘magical mystery tour’ to see his latest construction site, visit the remains of a splendid medieval castle or stroll the gardens of a stately manor in Scotland. These adventures left a lasting impression of the impact architecture can have. I went on to study at the Mackintosh School of Architecture surrounded by historical greats.

Describe your design sense and how it has evolved.

michaelangeloMy philosophy is best expressed by Charles Moore, “If architects are to continue to do useful work on this planet then surely their proper concern must be the creation of place – the ordered imposition of man’s self on specific locations across the face of the earth. To make a place is to make a domain that helps people know where they are and by extension know who they are.” I like to believe that all residences I design, no matter what exterior stylistic inspiration they possess, are found to be ‘at home’ in the region in which they reside.

What are you working on at present?

We’ve just wrapped up a resort in St Kitts along with two restaurants at Camana Bay, a bar on Seven Mile Beach and a beach house at Rum Point in the Cayman Islands. Currently, we are completing a duty-free retail building in Nassau, Bahamas, a martini bar at Camana Bay, some three-storey tower houses at Crystal Harbour and designing a glass-walled beach house at Cayman Kai.

How has your field changed in recent years?

In the thirty years that I have been practising in Cayman, I have come to recognise that the perpetual challenge is to design building solutions for a remote tropical island that retain their Caymanian-ness despite offshore influences. Thankfully, every decade a brood of designers share this vision and provide us with a wake up call like the Hyatt by Ed Halliday and the buildings by MRY at Camana Bay – projects that refreshingly acknowledge the traditions and culture of this tropical haven called Cayman.

What inspires you today?

Look out the window. Better still, open the window and welcome in the fresh breeze, the richness of our natural environment and the ‘terroir’ of our “dear, verdant island, set in blue Caribbean sea...” What more inspiration could one wish for?

TOP 10

  1. Designer: Hugh Newell Jacobsen
  2. chairFurniture: I enjoy classics by Breuer, Mies van der Rohe and Eames, but I also love the humour of Philip Starck’s designs.
  3. Design Tool: There’s only one. It’s called a pencil.
  4. Sustainable Gizmo: Incorporating solar collectors into product and building design.
  5. Appliance: I’m into 50’s retro. I love Airstream caravans, curved front fridges….
  6. Artist: Leonardo da Vinci as he is an all round genius...the original imagineer.
  7. Car: Actually, I like utility vehicles.
  8. Hotel: In Miami I enjoy the minimalism and sunlight of the Mandarin Oriental.
  9. airstream-caravanBook: I can’t remember the last book I read, but I have a vast collection of design and architecture books that continue to provide visual inspiration.
  10. Holiday: My honeymoon cruise through the Baltic to Russia followed by Venice, Florence, the Amalfi coast and Capri.


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