Ocean Drive Apartment is a project by the American design studio mwworks, which completely renovated and redecorated the house with tropical hardwood and sand-coloured plaster. The materials were chosen to maximise the quality of light and the view of the Miami coastline.
Mwworks is a Seattle-based design studio that handles both architectural projects and interiors. The studio was founded in 2007 by Steve Mongillo and Eric Walter. For the duo, it is important to bring together the vision of the client, the particulars of the site and the richness of pure craftsmanship in order to create an enduring and liveable architecture.
The materials were chosen to maximise the quality of light and the view of the coastline.
This was no different for Ocean Drive Apartment, a residence in Miami Beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The clients, a family of six, live in Seattle and travel frequently. However, having roots in South Florida, they were keen on returning home. During the renovation, mwworks united two smaller apartments on the sixth floor, unifying the floor plan and creating five bedrooms in the home near the beach. The design and materials were chosen according to the quality of the light and the view of the coast, which had to be exploited to the fullest. The bedrooms, which are on the outside of the flat, feature floor-to-ceiling glass so that the family can enjoy views of the beach and Ocean Drive Park below. The rooms are furnished in a light colour palette, with pale, sandy tones of hand troweled plaster reflecting natural light into the middle of the home. ‘The irregular surface of the plaster highlights the changing quality of light throughout the day and lends a softness to the private spaces,’ says the studio. In the kitchen and dining area, in the middle of the house, dark tones and tropical hardwood were chosen. For the walls, the studio chose solid wood boards, and the wide plank floors fit in perfectly with this. In the living room, there are no wooden floors, but large format concrete slab floor tiles that reflect light on the plaster ceiling above and also provide a cool surface underfoot. Airy curtains and earth-coloured carpets and baskets add a layer of softness and perfectly reflect the native flora and fauna of South Florida. Sober and simple volumes in the flat contrast with the richness of the wooden elements. To achieve as much simplicity and abstraction as possible, handles and light switches, for example, were incorporated into the doors and walls to create an uncluttered atmosphere. ‘Another design opportunity came from the client's many travels in the Middle East and their interest in mathematical patterns,’ the studio notes. In the master bedroom, the wall separating the bedroom from the bathroom has a detailed geometric pattern in bas-relief. ‘Working with the craftsmen who would install it, we developed a pattern and fabrication procedure to create an abstracted surface to catch the morning light.’ Ocean Drive Apartment is modern in its execution but still embraces the carefree style of Miami Beach. Photography by Kevin Scott