Award-winning architect John Doak is an “imagineer” who designs dream homes in a Caribbean context.

A graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, John Doak has spent almost four decades in the Cayman Islands designing buildings that have a sense of place and purpose. “Mostly, my designs respond to their location, orientation and by considering what I call the ‘assets’ of the site,” he says. “These speak to the relationship with Mother Nature, including the breezes, sun path, existing trees, topography and facing, and then by analysing those influences to develop a design that celebrates and respects those assets.” Doak also takes vernacular architecture into consideration, having restored many traditional homes as well as incorporating elements of traditional design into new-builds.

“Many of the new homes I’ve designed are contemporary interpretations of those traditions,” he says. “For example, I am referring to the architectural styles of Cayman’s homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s with verandas and the overall shape/massing of those one- or two-storey buildings.” And while architectural style-trends change over the years, Doak designs with sustainability and longevity in mind. “There is a trend in this part of the world for what the realtors call ultra-modern,” says Doak.

“At John Doak Architecture, we don’t necessarily speak that language, but we design homes that meet today’s family needs, lifestyles and necessities. Most importantly, we deliver a solution that meets those needs in innovative ways that allow the design to survive agelessly.”

Two residences that embody this approach are Villa Azure and Purple Haze in Grand Cayman, which are part of a “family” of beach houses Doak has designed for the same clients. These two sister properties were built for a couple who fell in love with a beach shack on the island’s north coast nearly 10 years ago. The shack was in the perfect spot at the water’s edge, overlooking the beautiful blue hues of the sea and sky, but the property was much too small for the husband-and-wife requirements. Nonetheless, they purchased the property and Doak was commissioned to build a new, larger house on the same location. However, in line with nautical tradition, the owners, who are keen sailors, kept the name of the original property.

As the couple and their family celebrated their first Christmas in the new Villa Azure later that year, the adjacent residence, Purple Haze, came up for sale. The couple bought that house, too, and once again asked Doak to replace the building with a modern beach home. An expanding family and a love of having friends to visit soon saw the couple acquire Dock of the Bay across the road from Purple Haze and replace it with a new house of the same name. Now, the fourth sibling house, Rainbow’s End, is being built next to Villa Azure, with Doak aiming to have the property completed in the latter half of 2018. “Each of the first three homes was designed inside a perfectly square floorplan,” says Doak.

“The fourth, Rainbow’s End, is far from what its name might suggest. Indeed, this house could be considered the ‘rad’ kid-brother as it breaks the mould of the first three siblings. It’s a leading-edge design concept that is deliberately different and in concert with the client’s positioning in the global marketplace.” Villa Azure, Purple Haze and Dock of the Bay are square-planned homes with the great room surrounded on three sides by the family’s bedrooms. A veranda wraps around the entire square shape, providing security, shade and protection from the tropical sun, whilst allowing the breezes to pass through the house even when it’s raining.

“Each house embraces the sunrise and the sunset, the doors flung wide open to welcome the warmth and beauty of the Cayman sun,” says Doak. “Sliding doors at Purple Haze open up a panoramic vista that celebrates the sun, sea and sand, which together with the aromas of the garden’s plants and flowers, enrich all the senses.”

Occasionally, a Cayman parrot might fly through the front door and out the other side of the great room to the North Sound beyond.
“What I enjoyed most about these homes was the opportunity I was blessed with to design and build four homes over a decade, and to be a part of the owners’ family-growth in the Cayman Islands,” says Doak. “It has truly been a generational project.” Offering a bespoke service to clients, Doak and his “right-hand” architect John Yeo, are prolific in their work, undertaking around 12 major projects per year. Doak has won numerous awards over the decades and, in 2013, was given the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his dedication to the preservation of the architectural heritage of the Cayman Islands.


John Doak | BOX 10004, Cayman Islands, KYI-1001
T 345 946 3625

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