Bella Verde, Grand Cayman
Bella Verde, an innovative abode on Grand Cayman, creates a new gold standard for luxury sustainable living in the Caribbean.
Words by Juliet Austin
Albert Einstein once described imagination as, "...a preview of life's coming attractions." Such is the case with Bella Verde, the environmentally-conscious abode soon to come into being in Grand Cayman's prestigious Salt Creek enclave. In collaboration with Dart Realty, the visionary five-bedroom home offers the seemingly impossible: an environmentally sensitive property in a pretty, upscale neighbourhood coupled with barely-there, cutting-edge technology and luxury beyond compare. The brainchild of Caymanian, James Whittaker and his affiliates at Green Tech, an emerging leader in regional sustainable design and building, the residence promises both to break ground and ground-break mid year, putting the Caribbean on notice that green glamour is in vogue for 2013.
Beauty aside - at Bella Verde what you see is not all you get. Consider that the masterminds behind the property intend nothing less radical than for it to 'be the change' for which the Caribbean has been yearning, and it is easy to see why it is garnering the attention of the region's cognoscenti. Providing energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management and superior indoor air quality, its judicious use of natural resources make it quite the anomaly: a sumptuous, high-end dwelling with sights on becoming the first LEED Gold certified residential property in the Caribbean. "LEED accreditation provides surety for owners from a third-party internationally-recognised industry standard," acknowledges Whittaker. "Bella Verde brings together the worlds of sustainability and luxury. One should not have to compromise aesthetics to embrace an environmentally sound lifestyle."
Set on a third of an acre canal front site, nine-feet above sea level and within the naturally intact infrastructure of the Salt Creek community, the idea, Whittaker explains, is, "to enhance what is already there." Created in deference to the natural mangrove buffer, a fifty-foot dock, private beach, outdoor kitchen and dining areas and dreamy saline infinity pool and spa, tick all the boxes for indulgence, while recycled glass tiles, high efficiency split-system heaters and variable speed pumps make for guilt-free opulence.
Beyond its charming shiplap exterior, locally-quarried stone cladding and traditional shuttered windows - and in addition to over 1,800 square-feet of covered outdoor areas - a meticulous design process allows the progressive 5,300 square-foot, two storey property to optimise a profusion of site specific and climate-driven solutions. Designed by US architect and LEED faculty member, Stace McGee, computer modelling guarantees efficiently zoned spaces where visual harmony and spatial flow rule supreme, but where beauty is underscored by substance.
Insulated concrete walls and a double hurricane-strapped, insulated and sealed standing seam roof deliver strength and durability, while impact rated doors and triple-paned windows filled with argon gas, deflect heat. Based on a study of sun, shade and wind patterns, overhangs and outdoor areas are sited for optimum impact. More than just a 'nice box,' inside dehumidification and continuous venting systems maintain a humidity level of 60% or less, while low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints, glues and sealants reduce offgassing and UV filters eliminate 95% of bacteria to create a healthy, safe environment.
Masterfully balancing pragmatic and aesthetic considerations, roofharvested rainwater, strategic passive landscaping (in the form of indigenous plants) and an electronically monitored irrigation system which uses sensors to activate sprinklers on a need-only basis, conserve water, sequester carbon and minimise waste. Recessed into the low maintenance, aluminium trelliswork and atop the porch, two separate arrays of photovoltaic cells provide invisible-to-the-eye clean energy systems with zero compromise on beauty. Typically reducing energy consumption in excess of 50% over a conventional home, the design is attractive not only visually but also to the pocketbook. Moreover, with the high cost of power in the territories, projected dividends are expected within a five-to-six year period, enabling owners to embrace the full depth and breadth of the Cayman lifestyle in comfort and style safe in the knowledge of reduced operating costs, negligible maintenance requirements and a diminished carbon footprint.
Journey inside, and the clerestory's capacious fourteen-foot ceilings create a dramatic entrance. Bathed in natural light, sleekly modern yet soulful interiors are configured cleverly to maintain constant connection to the magnificent outdoors through foldaway NanaWall glass doors that draw the eye out past the pool to the lagoon beyond. Engaging the senses, the open floor plan oozes sophistication, featuring arresting visuals like a six-foot high wine rack and the dazzling, backlit glass powder room counter whose translucent cerulean blue conjures a magical underwater world. Characterised by textured finishes, contrasting tones, airy vaulted ceilings and the omnipresence of water from the rain curtain, the pool or a recurring blue motif, the experience is strikingly visceral, a sentient reflection of Caribbean life. Downstairs in the master suite, recycled porcelain floor tiles mimic a natural wood grain, cool underfoot but warm in tone - an element mirrored in the wood beams of the cathedral ceiling. An exclusive patio and automated Lutron blinds provide privacy, while in the ensuite bathroom a pebble river rug meanders to an outside shower. Open to the elements, it shelters in the organic embrace of a living wall parallelled inside by a vast cut stone marble panel whose natural striations showcase Nature's work of art.
It was pioneering architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who observed that, "Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun," and at Bella Verde never can this be more true. Built on answers rather than questions, the beautiful green home invites us to discover the difference; to dwell in luxury worth its weight in gold.
For more information contact Sloane Rhulen, Vice President Sales & Leasing for Dart Realty, on (345) 323-0633 or
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