Bohlin Cywinski Jackson adds nature to midcentury Miami modernism

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson adds nature to midcentury Miami modernism

Located on an artificial island in the Biscayne Bay, the San Marino Residence designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in Miami Beach, Florida, was inspired by post-war Miami modernism, yet takes a humanist approach to the style by cultivating the surrounding nature and capitalising on the sea view. Built on a narrow site, the slim house that stretches towards the bay, is a telescope for the views of the water and the Miami beach skyline.

The ‘modest 0.3 acre wedge-shaped lot’ in a densely populated neighbourhood was the major challenge for the architects, who had to think outside the box to create the illusion of endless, luxuriating space.

San Marino residence

Internal staircase leading up the the pool. Photography: Jeffrey Totaro

Part of the solution was the first floor pool, which dramatically cantilevers 5.5 metres with a walkway running the full length beneath it. Marking the entry to the house and extending through the plot towards the sea, the pool cleverly employs the length of the site to its advantage, and creates an axis on which the rest of the house pivots.

Other geometric shapes are balanced around this central, oblong runway. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson layered on two further primary linear elements – a two storey bar along the site’s western edge that contains living and sleeping space; and a single-story guest and office wing along the eastern edge.

Exterior of the Miami house

Exterior and entry to the Miami house. Photography: Jeffrey Totaro

The bold forms and the palette of materials including concrete, Ipe, white oak, and limestone reference midcentury Miami modernist architecture, yet instead of adding decorative details commonly seen within the style, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson made the house less grand and more environmentally conscious.

The clients, who own a winery in Santa Barbara, were looking for a home that would allow them to live life outdoors in Miami’s tropical climate and to bring the lush greenery of the outdoors in. The architects’ layered solution brought nature with it. With plenty of glazing, the slim plan immerses the home in nature surrounding it with green leaves and blue water.

Interior construction of the staircase

Exposed metal staircase. Photography: Jeffrey Totaro

Large glass doors to the living and sleeping quarters are positioned to be cooled by the prevailing sea breeze, outdoor decks and balconies offer opportunities for outdoor living at each turn, while the broad overhangs shade the full-height window walls from too much heat. §

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