location: Miami Beach, Florida, USA | architecture: Alexis Cogul Lleonart – Doo Architecture | interior design: Doo Architecture | photography: Oriol Tarridas

The narrow shape of this property was instrumental in determining the plan for the subsequent new build – a home seeking light and vistas – where, as a long rectangle, the dimensions offered the architects an opportunity to create a courtyard design. Aside from the typical modern Miami home, conceptual consideration from the inside out was to be the driving force of an innovative structure that replaced the original 1959 house. 

A sequence of courtyards interrelates each of the spaces from front to rear, creating a straight path that flows from the entrance towards the boat dock via a single corridor connecting all the areas. It extends from the entry courtyards with green walls, to cantilever pergolas and an interior sculpture courtyard, to the main vaulted ceiling living area, which opens up to an infinity pool and sculptural staircase leading to a roof deck.

While the architecture claims straight lines and geometric presence, the interior areas throughout the structure were created to contort the space with curves and wooden ceilings, applied materials and interior architecture. Something the architects describe as ‘soft modern’.

The house has an enclosed area of 370 square metres, plus a rooftop terrace of an additional 90-plus square metres; the entire property having a waterside span of 20 metres and extending 50 metres to the rear boundary.

The architects recall the client’s brief: to create a getaway summer residence for a non-resident in Florida, who was looking for a personal, tropically
urban retreat.

They add: ‘The aim of the project was to bring the outside in and design a totally permeable house that could be opened to the exterior. The property is not wide facing on to the water, so the challenge was to enhance the outdoor spaces, while providing each a view to a courtyard or green area. This instead of overlooking a setback or neighbour; so that a sense of privacy and openness in the project was necessarily present from the outset.’

Inspirations here included the use of natural, local materials and the architects say that it was the warmth of these that drove the design process for the house. ‘It’s not just the structure that has the signature of a tropical villa, it’s enhanced by the use of green tones, various timbers and the flow of interior materials to the exterior.

‘The primary rationale of this project was to distort the scale itself. The massive 90-plus-square metre living space, with a vaulted ceiling of more than four metres, reduces the notion of a small house and creates a presence. Further, the arrival experience of recessing the entrance and guiding guests through an entry courtyard helps create an additional impression of a larger villa.’

Unusual architectural features here are a 20-metre, custom-sculpted, slatted wood wall and the lofty vaulted ceilings. Specifically designed and built fixtures include recessed planters that introduce greenery within the living area, frameless interior doors, custom-designed floors by the architects that combine wood and stone in the bathrooms and trimless interior recessed lighting.

Says Alexis Cogul Lleonart, founder and principal of Doo Architecture: ‘The intention from day one of this project was to create a house that would take advantage of Florida’s natural light, interacting with the plethora of plantings and reflecting openness. Due to the site constraints that stated goal was a challenge in complying with the local zoning regulations, yet it subsequently succeeded in creating an impression of generous scale on such a small property.’


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