Banyan Houses

Miami, Florida | ongoing

A Banyan tree (F. benghalensis) begins as an epiphyte, evolving over time into an impressive architectural structure. The tree’s spreading aerial prop roots eventually create a grove of trunks,
a columnar ‘hypostyle’ supporting a vaulting canopy of large and glossy leaves. In the fashionable Brickell district of Downtown Miami, one Banyan became the centerpiece for the development
of two new homes. The massive tree guided the positioning of the buildings, but more importantly inspired the concept development of the houses as well.

Conceived as a progression of raised platforms that together embrace the tree’s multi-columned trunk, the round pillars of the Banyan Houses support concrete decks that sandwich habitable
spaces. Areas between the decks alternate indoor and outdoor living rooms, emphasizing the essential duality of the tropical home type. The projecting concrete decks shade wall surfaces
of the home, reducing heat load and glare inside. The narrow coniguration of the homes supports active cross-ventilation and increases connectivity with the forested surrounding landscape.

The two houses are distinguished by their skins, which combine sliding glass, metallic screens and stone panels in different rhythms. In both homes, patios are carved from the body of the
first and second floor: the living and dining areas are separated by a garden “impluvium” that collects rainwater from the lower roofs. In order to reduce the impact of the car, areas for parking
are carved from the limestone ridge below the raised ground floor. The raised deck system emphasizes the autonomy of the houses from their verdant landscape.

 

© 2017 Shulman + Associates