Abode Speaks to architect Ron Shaw

07.09.15

Stevie King talks to award-winning architect Ron Shaw and discovers why the Turks and Caicos hits the spot for a totally tropical second-home.

Once the domain of celebrities, intrepid explorers, and eccentric trust-funders, the Turks and Caicos Islands are now more accessible than ever. Eight of the 40 islands are inhabited year-round, although thanks to a respectful approach to development - many are so sparsely populated that much of the year you may feel like the only beachcombing escapee present.

Providenciales, the most well-known of the islands, and the centre for tourism and business, is home to the international airport which receives daily direct flights from many keynote cities in the States as well as a regular direct flight from Heathrow. Just a 90-minute hop from Miami, Provo, is an idyllic spot for a sun-kissed vacation. But it’s an even better location for a holiday home; because the real secret to enjoying paradise is knowing you don’t have to leave after your vacation ends.

Ron Shaw knows this better than anyone. Shaw and his wife Karen made their home in the Turks and Caicos in 1996, building up a successful architectural practice, RA Shaw Designs, on Providenciales. The business has since expanded to several other tropical hot spots in the Caribbean but despite being a veteran globetrotter, Ron maintains his home and business base on the islands, and understands why so many of his clients choose to build their dream holiday home there: “The lifestyle is so familiar and personal,” he reflects. “When you fly back to Provo and you catch that first glimpse of paradise out of the window, it’s more than coming home. It’s like the island is part of your soul.”

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Although Ron readily acknowledges that building on a small Caribbean island can be a challenge, his considerable expertise means he can easily navigate the build process for clients: “Provo is manageable in that it is a small market. You can easily develop those essential quality relationships in the community.”

Shaw’s homes are unique to each client, but like the work of any artist, they all share certain Signature hallmarks. “When creating a home here it’s vital to connect to the natural beauty of the environment. When you move through an RA Shaw Design home you may not immediately notice whether you are indoors or out. This blending of nature and structure, creating intimate spaces that capitalise on the surrounds is an intrinsic design facet.”
From concept to completion - many of Shaw’s clients find themselves owners of their dream home after just 12 months – an impressive time frame considering the attention to detail exhibited in each of the design projects. With the strength of the investment opportunity and the allure of the location, now might just be the perfect time to find out how to make paradise work for you.

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DESIGN IN MIND

What portfolio of services do you provide to private clients?
RA Shaw Designs Ltd has been offering a full architectural design service since 1998. We realise that the most efficient way to deliver quality construction in a timely fashion in such a small constituency, is to have complete control of the build process. I acquired a General Contractors licence and formed Design Build Associates Ltd. Today, we build 95% of what we design.
In addition, we have a multi-talented staff that allows us to offer interior design and provisioning services as well. The majority of our projects include 360 degree interior design and decoration, right down to the touch-point details of furniture, artwork and accessories. The majority of our clients don’t live full-time on the islands and so it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the prospect of having to source suppliers off-island and arrange for ocean freight, import duties, and on-island deliveries. We manage all those aspects so clients can simply relax and enjoy their home.

What, if anything, is a typical client commission?
Our average home is in the 3,000 to 6,000 square-foot range. Our largest is the Emerald Cay project at 30,000 square feet. We have a staff of 8 in our design office, but many of our detailers serve as site managers overseeing the construction. Aside from the benefits of continuity, this set-up instills tremendous pride and dedication from our team.

Does your client base include a high proportion of aspiring foreign second homers?
The vast majority of our clients are foreign investors looking to build a vacation home in paradise.
What advice would you give to foreign buyers considering building their dream home on the islands?
To truly benefit from all that the Turks & Caicos has to offer, I firmly believe one needs to live and experience this environment for a significant length of time. Local knowledge is paramount.

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