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Architect: Donal McGrath

REALLIFE_Donal_McGrath_TopTenHaving studied and worked in Dublin and London, Donal moved to the warmer climes of the Cayman Islands in 1990 where he founded BDCL Architects in 2004. A member of the Royal Institute of Architects, he has designed a wide range of properties across the island, but always finds time to play the sax.

Define your architectural style.

Since arriving in Cayman I have been influenced by the climate and Caribbean vernacular architecture and have incorporated many traditional architectural features into my designs. Many of the historic Caribbean buildings are perfect examples of sustainable design and we can learn a lot from them in terms of energy conservation. I do not impose a particular architectural style on any of the buildings I design. I let the style emerge from a consideration of the functional and spatial requirements of the building program in the context of the scale, massing and proportion of the three-dimensional form of the building. I also take into consideration ‘natural’ design elements such as shade, breeze, views and landscaping which usually influence the exterior appearance of the building. In a nutshell, my architectural style is tropical modernism in a historical context with an emphasis on sustainable design.

What projects do you have on the horizon?

We have completed schematic designs for a number of interesting commercial and residential projects: two nightclubs and a number of restaurants and bars. We are also about to start construction of a number of houses.

What is your favourite room to design?

Because of the lack of topography in Cayman, I think that buildings should contribute as much as possible to the three dimensional environment. In the case of houses, I try to incorporate a cupola (a dome-like structure), or a belvedere (a room in the upper part of a building) at roof level to make the buildings more visually interesting and to take advantage of the breeze and the views of the ocean.

What projects are you most proud of and why?

The Salt Creek residential development was a wonderful project to work on because it gave to me the opportunity to participate in the creation of a unique residential community with distinct character and diversity. In addition, The Cayman Motor Museum, presented me with the challenge of accommodating a large collection of exotic, rare and classic motorcars in a structure that could withstand a category 5 hurricane without having the appearance of a bunker.

What are the most exciting developments currently happening in architecture?

I am very excited by the beautifully expressive and brilliantly innovative work of architects like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. Such work has been made possible by tremendous advances in structural engineering. We are seeing more smart buildings using computer technology and robotics integrated into the building structure and fabric such as the new Volkswagen factory in Dresden where human participation in the assembly process is minimal. REALLIFE_Donal_McGrath_Saxaphone Because of advances in technology, it is easier than ever to incorporate energy efficient and sustainable design features such as geothermal cooling systems, solar collectors and wind turbines into buildings without compromising architectural creativity.

What five things can you not live without?

My iPod – music for every activity at home, in the office or in the gym; my Yamaha saxophones; the Sundance channel for great classic and European movies; a pint of Guinness in the Skybar at the Guinness brewery in Dublin; and the unpredictability of family life.

To learn more email


A selection of homes & interiors at Salt Creek, Grand Cayman.

For more information please visit www.saltcreek.ky



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