DESIGN DISTRICT COURTYARD
Design Team: Jaime Correa
This unbuilt project, in the Miami Design District, consists of eight micro-apartment units surrounding an elliptical courtyard which has been deliberately pierced in the center of a concrete cube. Located at a prominent corner along NE Second Avenue, the proposal is a synthesis of three theoretical discussions by Jean Paul Sartre, Hannah Arendt, and Robert Venturi.
In his book “The Imaginary”, Sartre argued that objects, such as a cube, are perceived in a temporal manifold succession of profiles - one side at a time; as a consequence, the identity of such object is nothing but a mental reconstruction/synthesis of our multiple points of view. Arendt in her book “The Life of the Mind” quoted the German biologist Adolf Portman and his discovery of the contrast between the internal asymmetrical disposition of animals and the symmetrical appearance of their outside – a total contradiction to the Functionalist twentieth century Dictum “Form follows function”. Venturi, in his Magnum Opus “Complexity and Contradiction” took us through difficult theoretical contortions to convey the perceptual incongruencies and design paradoxes of Baroque and Modern architecture. This unbuilt project in the Design District takes clues from these three philosophical masters. It delivers a corner building which complies with the three predicates above: the temporal perception of objects and their synthetic reconstruction in the mind, the necessity to differentiate the appearances of interior and exterior, and the whimsical elaboration of differences and paradoxes along the six sides of a proposed apartment building which is shaped as a cube.
It is meant to supply the housing needs of some of the foreign temporary workers managing and attending the exclusive stores of the Miami Design District. Eight micro-apartment units surround the elliptical courtyard of a cubic building. The one and two-bedroom units, configured around the courtyard as if they were townhouses, do not exceed 700-800 SF. The project follows Adolf Portman’s description of the internal disposition of organs in which each unit is uniquely and asymmetrically placed in the overall plan composition. The multiplicity of openings from floor-to-floor allows for spatial affordances of exclusive atmospheres and amplitude – a perceptual device used in contemporary Japanese narrow houses.
The sectional dimetric view reveals the internal distribution of one of the micro-apartment units and the contrasting character of the building’s interior and exterior atmospheres. The corner hypostyle holds a space for a colossal bench and one of the pyramidal sculptures by Sol Lewitt.