In the office or not, we designers are always taking inspiration from the world around us. My recent trip to the Dominican Republic has left me feeling not only inspired, but incredibly thankful. I was welcomed by the Dominican’s famous hospitality and thoroughly enjoyed the simpler, slower way of life.
During my stay in the Dominican I spent the majority of my time in the town of Cabrera, which is located on the northern coast. The town is home to just over 39,000 residents. Cabrera’s main source of income does not stem from tourism, like many coastal towns- the town thrives on agricultural commodities, such as cattle, milk, coconuts and rice production. With this said, the majority of the homes in the town are very modest 1-2 room concrete structures and much time is spent outside in enclosed porches or thatched roof open air huts.
A typical home I saw in Cabrera is made of concrete bricks, concrete slab and rebar (drywall would rot, due to the moisture). Spray-Crete is another material that is commonly used in construction and is seen in the US predominately in poolscapes. Since humidity is so high here, most interior finishes are tile or wood, but never carpet. Mahogany (or Caoba) is a native hard wood and is used throughout older homes in doors and windows, trim and furnishings. (At one time, the wood was a huge export for the country but has since grown more extinct due to the trees slow growth time and excessive deforestation.) Most buildings in the Dominican are brightly colored and pop off of the lush green landscape; ornate metal details serve as both decoration and as added security and bright geometric tiles accent the exteriors- a growing trend in the US and worldwide.
Arched doorways and red clay roof tiles are attributed to the once-Spanish ruled aesthetic. (Christopher Columbus’s family home is located in Santo Domingo and is the 1st European establishment in the Americas.) Spanish style architecture serves as inspiration throughout the country in homes and public building alike to this day.
My trip has opened my eyes to another way people live and thrive- the homes were simple but left room to appreciate the astounding landscapes.