A city can largely be characterized by its individual dwellings. The development of the insulae in Rome, the casa patio in Latin America, the Viennese housing block and the detached house in the American suburb are but a few examples that reveal the intimate connection between the form of the dwelling and the form of the city. Beyond this, the dwelling materially presents a people’s way of life and can be viewed as a precise manifestation of a given culture.1 Its salient characteristics develop slowly over time and are not only a response to the local geography but also the constructive, social, and economic realities of a given place.
Today, Miami is America’s most unaffordable large city, offering limited housing options that do not serve the growing needs of the Tropical Metropolis by the Bay. To date, Miami has been constructed with two predominant housing typologies- the detached, single-family dwelling and the hi-rise condominium. The former is capable of configuring beautiful garden cities such as Coral Gables, but often characterizes the banal and repetitive patterns of suburban sprawl that define large sectors of the city. The latter is exemplified in the new housing typologies that rise to create downtown Miami’s skyline and is characteristic of rising land costs and rapid urban development trends. Very little consideration has been given to alternative housing typologies that lie between these two ends of the spectrum; and yet it is here that we may find creative and varied solutions to the questions of housing and the contemporary city.
The studio will be divided into two parts: analysis and architectural project. We will begin with an urban mapping and typological analysis that will allow us to understand the morphology of Miami. Housing projects will then be considered for a large parcel of land located within the Little Havana neighborhood.
We will travel to Miami with students to see the site firsthand and learn from its cultural, architectural and urban context. The visit will allow us to come in contact with the weighty presence of reality and the corporal reality of things as we meet with city leaders, cultural institutions, local architects and artists currently living and practicing in Miami. This experience will provide insights that will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of place and a more inspired vision for the individual, student, design proposals.
- A. Rossi, The Architecture of the City (Cambridge, M.I.T Press, 1984), 70.