In this interview Erez Bar-Nur of Landscape Design Workshop talked to Architecture MasterPrize™ about their project Key Biscayne Penthouse, a 2018 award winner in two Landscape Architecture categories: Gardens; Outdoor Designs.
Could you give us a little background on yourself or your company?
Landscape Design Workshop is an award-winning landscape architecture and planning design studio located in Boca Raton, Florida. Our atelier studio specializes in designing resorts and resort-like residences that embody the tropical lifestyle experience. Our designs provide a strong and unified identity and value to enhance the residents’ well-being and quality of life.
What was the brief for the award-winning project?
The 1,500 square-foot penthouse terrace wraps around the apartment with panoramic views of the ocean to the east, downtown Miami to the north and Biscayne Bay to the west. Initially the clients decided to rejuvenate the terrace using only new planting. We studied the terrace and recommended a design strategy that integrates planting with hardscape. The governing condominium documents imposed a number of design constraints and restrictions. For example, no structural modifications are allowed and the color palette is tightly controlled.
Please describe the design process. How was it resolved?
The terrace is divided into two primary zones using a teak wood gate. One area is for entertaining with access from either the main living room or from the library and the second area is private with access from the master bedroom.
The entertaining area is organized using horizontal and vertical hardscape elements. The built-in benches were overlaid with porcelain wood tiles and the area around the benches was defined using the same wood tiles as a paving material. The travertine stone paving field in between the two porcelain wood areas is accented with stone border using a contrasting color. The build-in planters were covered with a sand stone veneer and finished with a travertine stone cap. The paving for the private courtyard is kept simple using only travertine stone.
What challenges were faced throughout the process?
Shoreline planting selection is never easy, shoreline planting 12 stories high can be quite a challenge. Given the location, the plant material must be highly salt and wind tolerant. For this project we imposed one more requirement, planting also had to be sculptural and fluid, not formal or manicured. Landscape Design Workshop researched different plant material and visited a number of specialty nurseries before arriving at the final plant list.
What is most outstanding or most innovative about the project?
We were able to curate a collection of specialty plants with strong sculptural form. Each planter is anchored with one specimen palm, tree or accent plant. Selection included Satakentia Palm (Satakentia liukiuensis) a rare palm from the southern islands of Japan with an incredible burgundy colored crown shaft. Jata Palm (Copernicia rigida) from Cuba with sculptural triangular-shaped fronds. Old Man Palms (Coccothrinax crinite) are selected for the unique fuzzy trunk and Bottle Palms (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) for the vase-shaped trunk.
What outcomes of the project are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the way we were able to fuse together planting and hardscape to create an intimate garden terrace. A garden terrace that is framing the magnificent views and is a pleasant space for entertaining as well as for quiet contemplation.
What led you to become a landscape architect?
I was led to become a landscape architect by my childhood fascination with nature. This fascination later turned into a curiosity and desire to explore how man-made environments can be designed to replicate my early years’ sense of awe and wonder of the natural world.
Who are your biggest influences or who do you most admire in your particular discipline? My Biggest influences are the Scottish landscape architect Ian McHarg, the Amrican landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and the Mexican architect Luis Barragán.
If you could own any building or design object in the world what would you choose and why? I would own the entry to Las Arboledas in Mexico City designed by Luis Barragán. A memorable and masterful use of natural and man-made elements to create a serene and powerful experience.
What future trends, technologies, social changes or other influences do you feel will have a major impact on your particular discipline? I think that in the future there will be an increased pressure on outdoor spaces. With ever expanding urbanization, it will be critical to design open spaces that can serve as a counter point to the built environment.
How can landscape architecture make a real difference to society and the world? Landscape architecture as a discipline is concerned with the quality of outdoor spaces. In a world of ever expanding gap between the different layers of society, equal access to well-designed outdoor spaces that enhances the residents’ quality of life can make a real difference to society.
How do you feel about receiving an Architectural MasterPrize? What difference do you feel it will make to the future of your company? We are extremely proud and honored to receive (3) Architectural MasterPrize awards for our projects. This international award means that our mostly regional practice can now reach out to a wider audience that might find our philosophy and design aesthetic relevant to their future project.