Beachy Urbanism

Getaway spot Las Catalinas ( has launched its next neighborhood on the heels of a major award for its car-free design. The walkable seaside community in Costa Rica by developer Charles Brewer, architect Douglas Duany and landscape architecture firm TSW—all Atlanta-based—won a 2022 Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award for outstanding architectural, landscape and urban design and planning. Las Catalinas has 142 completed homes (as of May) in its 21-acre Beach Town neighborhood, plus hotels and vacation rentals, a beach club, eight restaurants, and various shops, office spaces and well-being providers. “It’s a huge honor and a big affirmation that what we’re doing is the right thing,” says Sara Bega, senior town architect. “It gives us a lot of energy for the launch of a new neighborhood.”

The new 60-acre El Prado neighborhood will have about 500 residences ranging from studios to flats in multifamily dwellings, to predesigned and custom single-family homes. Prices range from $90,000 for single-family lots to several million for pre-construction homes. Sidewalks and paths will connect the homes to Main Street with shops and cafes and a central park with a pool, playing fields and tennis courts. Stair streets will divide steep typography in sections such as Lantana, which will have 30 residences with Pacific Ocean views on the Guanacaste coast.

Las Catalinas’ intention to be experienced on foot allows people to appreciate the granular details, Bega says. For example, many owners customize the shapes, sizes and colors of their front doors as a “gift to that street,” she says. “When you are walking, you are at a speed and at a proximity where a beautiful front door is something that’s actually a part of your experience, as opposed to a blur as you rush by.”