In this Daily: Building a Beautiful Place to Live, and Why That Matters
Part of the founding vision of Las Catalinas was to create a place that would be beautiful. Beauty can be hard to quantify or measure, but the effect that a beautiful town or city can have on the people who live there can be very tangible. People are happier. They’re more active, and spend more time outside. Beautiful places tend to foster artistic and creative work, which provides a source of life and growth.
It’s for these reasons that many of the world’s oldest and most well-loved places have survived for such a long time. People simply prefer to live surrounded by beauty, and they are willing to go to great lengths to preserve it.
There are many different traits that can make something beautiful. Intricate detail, an emotional weight, a sense of newness, significance and purpose, color and texture, and many other factors can all make something beautiful, which can make beauty a subjective and hard concept to quantify.
However, there’s a natural reaction that comes from encountering great beauty. A piece of artwork, a stunningly done building, an expansive landscape, a colorful sunset: many things can be beautiful to different people, but each evokes a similar reaction, which lifts the mood, and often comes with feelings of inspiration, creativity, and energy.
It leads to an interesting dilemma. Any person can easily point out beauty when they see it. However, creating it can be a far more difficult task.
There were two fundamental learnings that informed the pursuit of beauty in Las Catalinas: nature, and the world’s most timeless towns.
The landscape and waters of Guanacaste, and Costa Rica as a whole, is universally regarded as among the world’s most beautiful natural places. Within a small area there are lush and vibrant forests, rolling waves of the Pacific and the Atlantic, mountains and valleys and rivers and volcanoes, as well as one of the planet’s most intense biodiversities, and stunningly beautiful sunsets giving way to starry skies.
Some of the guiding principles of Las Catalinas -- preservation of views and topography, and the protection of nature, among others -- are fundamental to maintaining this natural beauty in the area to be valued by all. Over 1000 acres, more than 80% of the land in Las Catalinas, were protected in perpetuity as a wildlife reserve, to restore the natural habitat for generations to come.
This decision to protect the beauty of nature and integrate it into life provided a framework onto which town planners could work. Planners then took inspiration from some of the world’s favorite towns, to learn from the timeless beauty that had succeeded in the Mediterranean, Europe, and the New World tropics.
The result is town’s timeless tropical traditional architecture, which provides a sense of consistency throughout the town and allows Las Catalinas to grow as a whole. This sense of cohesion ensured that not only would each individual home be beautiful, but that Las Catalinas would be beautiful as the sum of its parts, and further improve the lives of those who visit or make their homes in town.
Beauty can be subjective, contextual, and difficult to quantify, but by preserving the existing beauty of the natural area and building with well-planned, well-studied, and contextually appropriate designs that drew inspiration from timeless tradition, Las Catalinas was able to grow into the beautiful town that it is today.
Living in town where beauty is all around provides a different texture to life, one that can be seen in Las Catalinas.
Beauty lifts the mood, it can provide energy, creativity, and inspiration. Beauty also fuels the desire to get out, walk, and explore, to be active and as a result more healthy. Both of these factors in turn help foster connections between people, which creates a stronger sense of community.
As a whole, this beauty improves the quality of life for those who live in and visit Las Catalinas, and will be preserved as town continues to grow and evolve for the years to come.
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