This project is a conceptual, site-specific design for a mixed-income, multi-family housing development in Miami, Fla. It combines six slots. The fundamental idea was to provide more units in an effort to create more affordability, and density around the park. Parks of course can be great neighborhood amenities, however, when there isn't a constant visual surveillance around them through the eyes of the neighbors, they can become dangerous and unwelcoming spaces. Another principle important in the design of the project was to include a diversity of housing sizes. We believe that diversity makes it a more interesting, healthier environment then simply having as many units as possible. Imagine a scenario where a young family can live in the same development as a retiree or, are young professional. It creates an environment where different people with different interests, at different stages in there lives and all coexist, observing and learning from one another. That type of diversity is what makes neighborhoods great and that is what we are trying to promote here. Furthermore, the way development is happening coconut grove now places a great deal of importance on the car. You can see this in most new projects. Two cars sit in the front yards, one lot after the other, after the other, after the other. This leaves the sidewalk, which was once a pleasant pedestrian experience, continuously interrupted by curb cuts. It also kills any chance at having street trees define the character of the place. Our project demonstrates our concern of this phenomenon and makes great attempts to try and internalize the car locations, placing them in an underground parking lot.

One of our observations of West Coconut Grove has been the wonderful front-yard life -- particularly exhibited in African American households. It is very common to see families and friends gathered on the stoops and porches, or if they aren't available, by setting up a lawn chairs and tables, etc. This type of character brings life to the streets. It actually is what helps make neighborhoods safer. All of the units have either stoops or porches. A lower wall at the edge of the property just helps define the lot and marks private vs. public space but, doesn't build high fences around the property. Three smaller courtyards within the property help to preserve the existing trees on site. These trees are spectacular examples of old Florida landscape. Dade county Pines and live oaks are predominant. They are what generated the layout of the plan. The houses are built around them, leaving a sequence of meandering courtyards creating an amenity shared by the residents and potentially beyond.

Project Collaborators: Steven Fett. Sheng Qian and Andrea Hernandez