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Shade structure in the Caribbean

September 1st, 2011 / By: / Case Studies, Exteriors, Feature

Taking full advantage of natural trade winds, a responsive shade system improves the micro climate of this streetscape on Grand Cayman Island

With a planning and design team that reads like a who’s who of the planning movement called New Urbanism, the design of Camana Bay Town Centre on the western end of Grand Cayman Island hits all the high points of sustainable practice: pedestrian-friendly streets, iconic landmarks as way-finding aids and natural landscaping that responds directly to environmental conditions.

Master planners for this compact LEED-guided development are the founders of the planning movement: Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., most noted for its design of Seaside, Fla., in the early 1980s. New Urbanism promotes walkable neighborhoods, easily accessible public spaces and design that recalls local historic details and materials. Landscape design for Camana Bay is by the equally esteemed The Olin Studio, known for the garden designs of Canary Wharf in London, England, and the award-winning redesign of Bryant Park in New York City, N.Y. The design team also includes a long list of internationally recognized architects and specialists including Moore Ruble Yudell and Spillis Candella, DMJM (now AECOM.)

Design driven

Given this stellar team, it is no surprise that solar shading expert Duvall Design is the consultant for a shading system that significantly contributes to the sustainability bottom line of the project. Duvall, responding to analysis of thermal and wind studies of the site by engineering consultants RWDI, strategically placed a series of sun shades and retractable awnings along the Paseo, the site’s major pedestrian thoroughfare, to provide effective and inviting outdoor spaces that take advantage of the prevailing easterly breezes. Key to Duvall’s design is a series of toldos-style (horizontal fabric ribbons on taut cable tracks) adjustable shades installed above the sidewalks to shade restaurants and shops, and in another group mounted transversely high above the center of the Paseo to block midday sun.

When fully extended, the lower, side toldos span 24m between the buildings and rigging beams on each side of the Paseo to provide greater intimacy to the restaurants and shops in addition to shade.

How it works

Ribbon-like fabric panels extend out from each side on stainless steel cables that attach to a rigging bar. Each ribbon, 1.8m by 12m long, can easily be fully or partially extended as needed by restaurant or shop employees because the ribbons are driven by a motorized cable loop and ride along the cables. To stiffen and give shape to the fabric, Duvall inserted stainless steel ribs enclosed in sleeves. All structural components are stainless steel, and the turnbuckles and wire rope terminations are nautical grade hardware. If needed, the ribbons can be removed: there are endtips (finished with teak caps) that attach with spring pins through bronze grommets.

Each ribbon has a 5-watt LED lamp above that retracts with the toldos for backlighting at night. Storm covers zip onto the toldos to protect them in a tropical storm.

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