Stone in the Garden is a project landlocked by two unadorned historical buildings near Washington Avenue in the City of Miami Beach. The design team’s task was to create a low rise multi-family residential solution on a strip of land with numerous constraints: challenging setbacks, no vehicular access, adjacency to historic buildings, minimum distances from adjacent structures, among others. The Market rate Multifamily residential program consists of 5 units (2 one bedrooms, 2 two bedroom duplexes and 1 two bedroom triplex). The total square footage is 6000sf. Design Team: Alejandra Saul (Project Leader + Interior Designer) and Daniela Romero (Landscape Designer).
The concept was to create an object; a stone, that would resemble a found artifact overgrown by nature but peering out from beneath the greenery teeming with light and vitality. The entire site near the object would be sloped up in order to reinforce the idea of the stone being deeply rooted into–or jutting out of–the ground. From a practical standpoint this allowed the design team to creatively use accessible ramps (1:12 slope) and gradually slope 1:20 to the ground floor of the units at base flood elevation. The Northeast corner of the facade is chiseled back to soften the approach to the building and the glazing serves as a way-finding beacon at night and it resembles a shiny shard of glass protruding from the stone during the day.
The building has its long sides facing north and south as a result of the site geometry. However, the curtain wall glazing faces the north and the vines draping over the facade face south. We expect the vines, which are irrigated from the roof deck planter, to mature in 4-7 years. At maturity the vines will shade the south facade and reduce solar heat gain. The roof decks are raised and slatted (gaps between planks) to allow water to pass through and be collected by roof deck drains which carry water to an underground cistern. The roof is expected to collect about 900 gallons of water each year to be used for irrigation. The plant material selected range from Florida native species with low water consumption to Florida-friendly plants that have adapted to Florida’s rainfall seasons and do not require excessive irrigation.
Another key sustainable strategy is resilience. The sloping site is designed to eliminate a conventional wheelchair access ramp but also brings the lowest occupied floor at base flood elevation according FEMA. The materials used on the exterior of the facade are all
“permanent finish”, meaning they do not require paint or replacing. The exterior walls are cast-in-place concrete and the horizontal fins along the south facade are Ipe Iron Wood.
Any glazing not facing north or shaded by vines is double insulated glass with a low solar heat gain coefficient. The interior spaces are designed with EPA Water Sense fixtures and Energy Star appliances. Stoves are Natural Gas, a common feature of Miami Beach condominium units.
BC3’s interdisciplinary design team has created a simple and thoughtful solution for a small and challenging site. Stone in the Garden expresses strong concepts addressing sustainable design as well as creative aesthetic expressions that make this project a unique addition to Miami Beach’s rich architectural traditions.