Hector C. Fernandez
I figured I would give my readers a much-needed break from the heady topics and discussions concerning zoning, land use, deed restrictions, ordinances, etc.
Let’s talk architecture, design and trends. As we look forward to the start of season, let’s see what’s hot and happening in design.
So I’m going to take a very deliberate right turn on this one and set eyes on our nearest design capital, and arguably one of the current trendsetters internationally today. Yes, you guessed it, our neighboring metropolis of MIAMI. MIA for short, or the “305” if you are so culturally inclined and/or hip (or a fan of Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull). Love it or hate it, MIA is setting the trend these days. So I won’t tell, if you won’t tell, that secretly…we love Miami trends.
The latest look for high-end homes seems to be walking the fine line between chic modern and a fresh hybrid of tropical island cool. In an indirect sort of way you can say it’s a revamped version of some of the South Seas Polynesian vibe that the Mackle Brothers originally envisioned for Marco. Goes to show that trends are cyclical. But as with all new versions, this one is unique in its own way. I’m going to focus a bit more on the “transitional” style that is more “island” inspired. I’m not sure if Marco is ready just yet to fully embrace “modern” (I wish it would). However, “modern,” with a warm flare of tropical (I think for the time being) is well within the comfort zone of our cozy little island paradise.
Speaking of modern, drive by (or navigate by, if you prefer) and take a look at a new home under construction on Ember Court in Marco Island, designed by Architects Stofft Cooney, and being built by BCB Homes of Naples (I give credit to our brother profession of fine builders. We couldn’t bring our dreams to reality without you folks!). I think, or at least hope, that this house is a peek of things to come. Gorgeous sweeping curved roof, panoramic back facade and cool crisp, clean lines. Nice job guys. Really nice.
Most notably, today we are seeing floor plans that are completely open and free-flowing in nature. Bigemphasis is placed on a complete inside/outside feel throughout, either by using sliders on all exterior facing rooms, or panelized doors such as “Nana Wall.” Terraces and patios basically become indistinguishable extensions of interior rooms. And why not? After all, we live in one of the most beautiful, natural settings one could hope for, so embrace it.
Roof lines are clean and simple, no need to create overly complicated roof lines. Less is more. No grandiose entry porticos that are completely out of scale and uninviting. Integration, scale and elegant proportions are imperative. If you can figure out a creative way to minimize or hide a double car or three car garage door from dominating the façade of your house, well, you sir got yourself a gold star for excellent design. We all know that our cars are completely indispensable extensions of our modern life, but why make it the most important focus of our homes, right?
Materials being used on the exterior are cool and simple. Emphasis is on creating pleasing contrast and highlights with simple yet rich materials. We find dark stained wood on oversized 5’ plus overhangs, dotted with elegant unobtrusive low voltage high hats integrated into the roof eaves.
Please keep fake corbels or superfluous roof trims away! Far away! Glue-on Styrofoam details have no place on good architecture. Louvered panels atop of large glass openings allow light, but also help with direct sun exposure, and serve to add an extra dimension of detail to the skin of the building. Roofing material is leaning towards dark bronze metal, standing seam or flat cement/slate tiles in a dark gray color.
Did I mention green roofs for flat roofs? And no, I don’t mean green paint (inside joke), but instead, roofs that are planted with living plant material that serves various functions such as reducing heat island effect, natural insulation barrier, natural filtration of rain water, and in many cases, a beautiful aesthetic feature of the house that once again strives to blur the lines between inside/outside. Anyone been to New York lately? Been on the High Line? If you have, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, well check out www.thehighline.org/visit, or take a weekend trip to the Big Apple. Anyexcuse to get away to NYC is a good excuse indeed.
Indoor finishes vary greatly, but clean and elegant are a given. A soft, muted color palette of grays, khaki or whites is popular. A pickled wood look is popular, but in most cases the look is translated into high-grade porcelain tile in plank form. Kitchens, as usual, continue to go the European route with clean modern lines and beautifully smooth white stone tops with waterfall edges. Another popular alternative is a residential refined version of a “commercial look-alike” style kitchen. Glass tiles for backsplash still seem to be popular at times, but there are other hipper alternatives such as butcher block-type finish or a polished concrete look. Even the lowly white subway tile is still an acceptable trendy look. Trims and details are all about elegant simplicity.
Oh and by the way, please, never ever, ever under any circumstance should you use “stacked stone” as a finish material in South Florida (And by “South” I always mean East and West halves of the South). This ain’t Colorado or California, it’s “South Florida.” Use limestone, keystone, oolite stone, even stucco is a tried and true and tested regional favorite. If you’re going more the “modern” route, architectural concrete is a preferred and sought after look. Stacked stone…not so much. It just looks ridiculously out of place. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful material, but it’s not a regional tradition. If you’re a Season’s 52 or California Pizza Kitchen, sure go for it. But if not, well, resist the urge. If you find yourself emotionally tied to it and cannot live without it because it reminds you of your childhood home, etc., then be prepared to explain yourself to the Architecture Police! But seriously, it looks totally out of place, best to leave it for indoor use. You don’t want your hip and trendy Floridian neighbors making fun of you behind your back. 😉
In our next installment we will continue with the topic of “New Trends” and how they apply to some of the things you don’t see. Make sure to get your next copy, and the meantime, if you have any questions, remember to…“Ask an Architect.”
Hector C. Fernandez, AIA, can be reached at Infoh366@aol.com, or by calling 239-330-8124.