Home Energy Management Car Free Las Catalinas Announces Completion of Beach Town Neighborhood

Car Free Las Catalinas Announces Completion of Beach Town Neighborhood

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Plaza Mercado in Beach Town

GUANACASTE, COSTA RICA—In 2006, the innovators behind a car-free town aspired to create a better way of life connecting people to nature in a place where 1,000 acres of a 1,200-acre property would remain undeveloped as a tropical dry forest reserve. After 16 years of planning and construction, that vision is now a reality with the completion of the neighborhood of Beach Town in Las Catalinas. Referred to as one of the most important and beautiful new towns in the world by renowned Notre Dame School of Architecture Professor Douglas Duany, Las Catalinas is located in the northwestern province of Costa Rica. Inspired by New Urbanism, the town offers a sustainable lifestyle that is influenced by the natural surroundings. Throughout its development, the town’s commitment to nature remains as one of its main core values.

Consisting of approximately 150 single family residences, 14 mixed use buildings, and over a dozen commercial and civic buildings across 21 acres of land along the Pacific Coast, Beach Town is a high-density, car-free town. With friendly neighborhoods, walkable streets and plazas, and timeless architecture, Beach Town was conceptualized to combine leisure and urban living with an emphasis on the natural surroundings. Beach Town is connected to two Pacific Ocean beaches and over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails in thriving tropical dry forests reserves. With a rich network of narrow passageways, stair streets and public plazas, the town weaves together 150 residences, two hotels, a beach club, eight restaurants and a variety of shops, offices and businesses centered on living well. In 2022, The Congress for New Urbanism celebrated Beach Town with a Charter Award recognizing the town for achieving “more equitable, sustainable, connected, healthy, and prosperous communities.” Most activities, conversations and meals are enjoyed in the fresh air under shade trees or on the outdoor covered terraces within the timeless tropical architecture. The value placed on walkability and relationship to nature creates an engaging place to visit.

“While the radical idea to build a car-free town received pushback even from the initial design team, our walkable town now seems the most natural and preferred way to be,” said Roberto Villalobos, Sub-Director of Design and Construction for Las Catalinas. “Car-free public realms invite natural sociability and freedom for children that can be enjoyed equally by all. The resulting density allows for more balanced natural-urban transects. Beach Town’s minimal footprint creates a sustainable infrastructure not just for the natural environment, but also for an active and healthy lifestyle full of organic, human, and architectural beauty.”

Eclectic Mix of Retail Businesses

Beach Town has come to life over the years and offers a vibrant and eclectic mix of retail businesses embracing a way of life that supports the natural fabric of town.

“The next neighborhood underway includes El Prado where residences, mixed use buildings, parks, and neighborhoods have started vertical construction for an ambitious 600 buildings across 60 acres—most of which get panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and are surrounded by 40 kilometers of hiking and mountain biking trails.”

Located just east of Beach Town in El Prado, Lantana Residences is a collection of ocean view homes and flats built into the hillside. Set to begin construction in the second quarter of 2023, Lantana Residences are in the second neighborhood in Las Catalinas on the hillside of El Prado. The residences flank a picturesque stair street and offer the most dramatic urban and ocean views in Las Catalinas. The residences are slated for completion in July 2025. Ranging from one to four bedrooms, Lantana Residences offer dramatic views, plentiful outdoor spaces, crafted interior finishes with spectacular architecture. Slanted rooftops, thick walls, high ceilings, clever ventilation, and other structural considerations provide respite from the outdoor elements in the Guanacaste tropical dry forest. Indoor and outdoor living spaces, pools, and outdoor terraces embrace the climate and allow for comfortable indoor and outdoor living. Wood and other materials used are from sustainable sources and all buildings are designed to be energy efficient.

The crowning jewel of the Lantana neighborhood is its stair-street architecture modeling pedestrian Mediterranean hill towns of the Old World. Not only are stair streets visually stunning, but they link people, places, and conversations together, providing an intricate tapestry that weaves lives together. Utilizing its intense sloping topography, Arosemena & Way Arquitectos designed the stair streets of Lantana to create a way for visitors and residents to explore the neighborhood from the shops, plazas, parks, and streets of lower levels of El Prado to the higher vistas, residences, and trail heads of the upper neighborhoods of El Prado. Highly visible from nearly all areas of town while offering a panoramic ocean and town view, the stair streets of Lantana enhance the pedestrian experience which is the cornerstone of Las Catalinas in encouraging interaction and engagement among residents and visitors. The Lantana neighborhood will feature nine buildings and an intricate array of plazas, parks, and community pool. Residences offer a variety of floorplans ranging from 484 square feet to 3,843 square feet.

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