Daring to be different - Camden House
Contemporary style arrives in Cayman with Camden House.
Words by Isy Obi. Photography by Bart Claes & Monika Wojtkiewicz.
With uncompromisingly modern lines and bold architectural angles, few homes have excited as much interest as Camden House in Grand Cayman. Positioned upon a 15-foot sand ridge, on one of Cayman’s most spectacular shorelines, the futuristic beach house makes an audacious design statement.
Serene in its originality, Camden House is the brainchild of London property developer Vidal Brewer and his wife, Lisa. They moved to Cayman with their daughter in 2011, attracted by the islands’ relaxed lifestyle and superior infrastructure. After an extensive search, they chose picturesque North Side for their ultra-modern 8,000 square foot house owing to the 100 feet of prime beachfront and high elevation, allowing for spectacular views across the reef and cerulean sea.
Inspired by the innovative minimalism of contemporary Spanish architecture they admired whilst living in Costa Brava, the couple also appreciated the sleek lines of beach villas they had seen on Ibiza and Mallorca.
Working with award-winning UK architects Nicolas Tye, they challenged themselves to create an extraordinary home that would celebrate the natural beauty of Cayman’s north coast in a fresh way. “We didn’t want to replicate anything that was already here,” explains Lisa.
By taking on such a grand task what the couple had not expected were the seemingly endless challenges associated with constructing a cutting-edge home in Cayman. As they soon discovered, many of the building materials and construction techniques the home required were not de rigueur on island. Fortunately help was at hand with John Doak Architecture.
Harnessing Doak’s 35 plus years of local knowledge and expertise, the couple gained much-needed introductions to local builders, suppliers, engineers and specialist consultants, whilst avoiding many of the more arduous aspects such as building codes and compliances. “We were delighted to assist Lisa and Vidal in realising their dream of building this unique home in the Cayman,” says John Doak. “The architecture and interior design are spectacularly bespoke, it establishes a new standard of excellence on island.”
Cleverly designed and orientated to embrace the best of tropical outdoor living, Camden House’s dramatically angled walls and overhangs maximise shaded outside space and minimise solar gain. Three roof terraces provide ample space for alfresco lounging as well as striking views of the surrounding landscape, including the lush Mastic Reserve to the east. The largest terrace, found on the uppermost level, delivers a 70-foot long party deck complete with garden, state-of-the-art Savant entertainment system, shaded outdoor kitchen and bar and an artificial turf putting green.
Downstairs, the light-filled central living area benefits from 38 feet of floor-to-ceiling glass pocket doors that open to the elements, blurring the distinction between the inside and out. A turquoise L-shaped lap pool cuts a sharp angle in the ipe deck mimicking the bold lines above, and then it’s a small step down to their private beach where a pair of hammocks sway invitingly in the ever-present breeze.
Inside, the furnishing’s neutral colour palette is enlivened by aquamarine accents. The owners’ love of contemporary art and design is evident in the Pop Art prints that provide splashes of vibrancy, and the collection of 20th century furniture design classics displayed strategically around each room.
The streamlined kitchen, complete with Miele and Bosch appliances, was custom-built by award-winning UK firm, Roundhouse Design. Its crisp white lines softened by natural stone textures and oak cabinetry which infuse warmth while connecting the different open-plan areas for cooking, dining, entertaining and working.
Separated from the main living area by a freestanding, concrete bookshelf lined with travel curios and family photos, the snug is an intimate zone designed for quiet contemplation. An adjacent child’s playroom that looks out on a secret courtyard and fourth bedroom is neatly tucked away behind a floor-to-ceiling pocket door.
Slicing through the three floors of the house, a dramatic steel cantilevered staircase clad in oak and edged with glass divides the house to deliver a pragmatic jolt of modernity upon entering the residence.
Upstairs, all three en-suite bedrooms have glassed-in balconies, providing uninterrupted views of the Caribbean Sea, justly giving it pride of place. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the master bedroom where a floor-to-ceiling glass wall provides a magnificent 180-degree view.
In the bedrooms, Lisa has indulged her sense of whimsy. The master bedroom’s decorative accents hint at a softer eclecticism, contrasting with the home’s clean lines. “Vidal prefers a completely minimal look but accommodates my more wild taste,” Lisa laughs. It was this spirit of compromise that carried the couple through the challenges of building a decidedly modern home in the Caribbean.
Resolute in vision, Camden House brings a new energy to the Cayman Islands. Striking and coolly self-assured, this Caribbean beach house dares to be different, challenging observers to think beyond the box.
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