Las Catalinas in Costa Rica Wins 2022 Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award

OKLAHOMA CITY, March 24, 2022 — Dedicated to creating a way of life that is healthy, sustainable, fulfilling and fun, Las Catalinas is a car-free seaside town in Costa Rica that has made New Urbanism principles an integral part of its mission since its inception, and as such, is especially excited to announce Founder Charles Brewer, Architect Douglas Duany, TSW Design, and the Las Catalinas team as the recipients of a 2022 CNU Charter Award, the ceremony for which will take place in Oklahoma City on Friday, March 25th.

For the 22nd year, CNU’s Charter Awards will recognize outstanding achievements in architectural, landscape, and urban design and planning worldwide. Regarded as the preeminent award for excellence in urban design, the CNU Charter Awards honor a select number of projects representing major contributions to building more equitable, sustainable, connected, healthy, and prosperous communities. The Charter Awards jury is composed of distinguished designers, architects, planners, and scholars who carefully review entries and select winners. A focus of the 2022 jury was for projects that bring people together, as people centered places have always been a cornerstone of the New Urbanism movement.

A Celebration of Las Catalinas Benefits

“We are so pleased that the Las Catalinas benefits we’ve talked about for years — the natural sociability, and the kid freedom, the beauty, and the peace and quiet and safety — are being celebrated in this way by an organization we hold in such high regard,” says Las Catalinas Town Founder Charles Brewer. “At Beach Town, you sort of descend from the often hot and sunny and dusty world of cars to this amazing, cool, beautiful universe that exists below.”

“Beach Town, Las Catalinas creates a rich network of intimate urbanism on a steep site in Costa Rica. The 21-acre Beach Town in Las Catalinas, Costa Rica, combines the intricate urbanism of a European hill town with the architecture of Latin America and the development programming and process of a US new urbanist neighborhood,” reports CNU Journal’s Robert Steuteville, who continues below.

“First inhabited in 2011, the project’s architectural guidelines include the following principles:

  • Built to last: The goal is for design and construction to last centuries.
  • Appropriate for climate: Design is suited to the local climate.
  • Many fronts: All sides and even the roofs of a building will be visually important and will need to be beautiful.

  • Authenticity: No structure or material will try to be anything other than what it really is.
  • Practicality: There is beauty in the truly practical.

A Model for Car-Free Living and Nature-Preserving Design

The first neighborhood to be built in Las Catalinas, Beach Town is a model for car-free living and nature-preserving design. Eighty-seven percent of the 1,500-acre property will be left undeveloped as tropical forest. The edges of the neighborhood are marked by the ocean—the beach is part of a continuous national park—and forest reserves that include more than 30 miles of hiking and biking trails. Many people have contributed to the design of Beach Town, beyond even those listed for this award. Designs are approved by an Architectural Review Board and an in-house design and construction team guides all projects. The main priorities are to create a place that is timeless, sustainable, and supporting of healthy and satisfying lives.

Motor vehicles are not permitted throughout most of Beach Town. The steep topography and lack of cars has created the opportunity for a rich network of narrow passages, stair streets, and intimate public spaces. Nearly all of the buildings are located on a small plaza or park. The low-rise town nevertheless supports more than 12 “front doors” per acre, including residences, guest rooms, and hotels. Beach Town is extremely permeable for people on foot, and the building design and placement are optimized for ocean views, breezes, privacy, and access.”

The entire town of Las Catalinas currently includes 142 completed homes, two hotels, a beach club, eight restaurants, and a variety of shops, office spaces and wellbeing service providers. For additional information, please visit

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