New Scale, New Sensations
The project site, in the heart of Coconut Grove, raises a question that requires a detailed response. Obviously we need to use the situation to create views from each apartment toward the sea, the future park and the boats! But in order to make the pleasure total we need to forget the neighbors, too close, too visually disturbing, indiscrete, that violate the privacy of the residents. And it is necessary to protect against the neighbors within the development itself. So the program is dense and the strategy delicate.
Architecture is born of constraints.
To integrate all the constraints and arrive at an architecture that is hedonistic and joyous is a real headache. It’s obsessive.
You will understand therefore that all our energy has been concentrated on finding a solution that is both sensible and sensitive. I am proposing a strategy, an ambition, a reality that we will call “Grove Heights”.
This ambition is contained within a series of decisions, of positions taken to:
- Create a landscape that echoes those of the Grove.
- Create a central park space that is as large as possible by arranging the apartments around the perimeter of the site.
- Create atypical apartments, apartments to fall in love with, from different situations, all with ocean views.
These “situations” are brought to light and to life by a number of “sensitive devices” that use the following paradigms:
- Shown / hidden (foreground / background).
- Sun / shade.
- Reality / unreality (reflections).
- Inside / outside.
- Shown / hidden
Views can be composed. Devices that have their own character and function are placed in the foreground against a background that is the initial view. From its terraces and glazed façades each apartment has a perimeter view through a long linear façade. The view is filtered by:
- Vegetation, using species of plants chosen to evoke the landscapes of the Grove.
- Large sliding venetian shutters with operable slats made of translucent and reflective materials.
- Large, full-height mirrors that slide along the façade.
- By manipulating these three elements the residents decide what they see, where they see it from, and where they need visual protection.
These variations and the play of light they generate the architecture of Grove Heights.
- Sun / shade
Shadows are cast by the shutter slats and the plants. Punctuations of light of varying intensity filter through the translucent or reflective shutter slats.
- Reality / unreality
The sliding mirrors, the slatted shutters, and the full height glazed facade create a game of reflections, and reflections of reflections, from the perfect mirror to the blur mirror which erases contours while expressing nuances of color and movement.
- Inside / outside
The limit is ambiguous, erased by the transparent glazing, present or absent depending on whether the sliding façade is open or closed. The terrace can be closed behind a wall of slatted shutters, forming a giant trellis constituted by modules in different states of openness. The terrace is neither outdoors nor indoors; it is inspired by a category of space in Japanese architecture that is called “ma”.
Each apartment has a strong individual character.
All of the apartments are composed from the same set of elements.
The façades are gardens, vertical, deep, full of variations, surprises, open like loggias, punctuated by shutters, inhabited by multiple species of plants or… empty. Whether they are seen from the street looking up or in the background of a view, the façades are mysterious landscapes.
Extending the future park across the street, Grove Heights park marries cascades of water with vegetation native to the Grove. The park extends to the entrance halls at the base of the residences raised on pilotis and rises to planted terraces. It continues rising to cover the apartment terraces and culminates in planted roof decks at the top of the buildings.
Because of the complexity of the site, we have studied two different options. In the first, Coconut Grove Bank is kept in its current position and totally integrated into the park. In the second option the bank is moved to its planned future location on 27th Avenue.
The strategy is set.
The rules of composition are clear.
The width of the apartments is flexible (3 feet of additional width yields 10% of additional area), as is the distance between the new development and the neighboring hotel.
The architecture will be refined and finalized together between the Client and the Architect.
Grove Heights is an urban composition but also a landscape composition, heir to a history that goes back to the old landscapes of the Grove. Reinterpreting the scale of contemporary buildings, Grove Heights offers new sensations in the climate of Miami.