Born in 1954, Kengo Kuma is a Japanese architect who established his firm Kengo Kuma and associates in 1990. His intuitive talent for fusing design with environment and social responsibility has earned him fame around the world. Since the establishment of Kengo Kuma and Associates in 1990, he has finished projects in more than 20 different nations, and throughout his career, he has amassed a portfolio of more than 300 finished projects. He is also a professor at the University of Tokyo and is known for his notable writings such as Ten Sen Men (“point, line, the plane”, Iwanami Shoten), Hito no Sumika (“shelters for people”, Shincho Shinsho), and many others.

Kengo Kuma and associates unveil the designs for The Aman Miami Beach Residences, created for the premium hotel chain Aman, whose portfolio of properties already boasts some of the most breathtaking settings on earth. It will be the first residential tower the architect has ever built in the United States once it is finished. The design of this beachfront tower tends to combine the vibrant energy of the metropolis with peaceful natural serenity which is the principle design philosophy of the architect. Aman Miami Beach Residences will be built in the city’s Faena area, at 3425 Collins Avenue, a renowned location.

Kengo Kuma unveils studio's first residential tower in the United States - Sheet1
Aman Miami Beach Residences_©www.aman.com

“Waving white honey curves evoke the lyrical Art Deco notes of the companion Versailles building,” – Kuma adds of the design. The residence building which will rise 18 storeys will be one of the two establishments on Miami Beach. Right next door, the historic Art Deco building constructed in 1940 will undergo restoration work under the direction of Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston to become the Aman Miami Beach Hotel. The residential building will be covered with terraces and full-height windows positioned to take in the coastal views, similar to the style of its neighbour. Rounded art deco shapes, like those on the Versailles and other Miami Beach structures, inspire its curved shape. The development will have 23 completely furnished private villas under the Aman brand. “The colours throughout the neighbouring district will contrast and complement the structure’s light tonal hues, acting in direct dialogue with Miami’s Art Deco heritage,”- said a press statement on the project.

Kengo Kuma unveils studio's first residential tower in the United States - Sheet2
Aman Miami Beach Residences_©www.aman.com

Three floors above the ground, the building will be supported by a set of pillars that resemble lightweight stilts and are finished with vertical timber slats. These features go beyond simple aesthetic preference; by elevating the tower, a popular choice in a coastal setting, the architects wish to protect ocean views for nearby residents further inland. A central pillar at the base of the structure covered in a wooden lattice will spread out gradually from the base to the first residential story giving it an organic, branch-like appearance. The cladding on the underside of the plates on each story is a material choice that is repeated by the perimeter support columns, which will also be lined with wood. To shield the entering column from the ocean and create minimalist sitting rooms on the bottom level outside of the column, a thin wall of three-storey glass will be built around it. The glass facade displays vertical timber louvres with wrap-around balconies.

Kengo Kuma unveils studio's first residential tower in the United States - Sheet3
Aman Miami Beach Residences_©www.aman.com

The design combines the traditional material expression of timber with a contemporary design. The ultra-thin floor plates called knife-edge slabs by the studio will be different at each level giving rise to maximum unobstructed beach views. Each slab will imply motion and rhythm. The wraparound terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows will be partially protected by these angled slabs from Miami’s relentless sunshine. A parametric “wave” made from custom wood latticework will catch anyone’s eye when one would enter the main atrium. 

Kengo Kuma unveils studio's first residential tower in the United States - Sheet4
Atrium design_©www.aman.com
Aman Miami Beach Residences_©www.aman.com

The construction tapers significantly towards the top to offer a somewhat larger terrace on the 15th level, and each condominium in the unit will have a terrace. The interior will have Japanese elements such as paper washi screens and an extensive spa-like bathroom experience. Along with custom wood cabinetry, kitchens will embrace a tapestry of materials such as coral stone, white steel, limestone, and white oak. To create a spa-like experience in a quiet setting, the bathrooms will have hinoki wood soaking tubs that are enormous and have stone walls. As is typical of Kengo Kuma, the design incorporates a variety of Japanese-inspired features, such as the concept of wabi-sabi, or beauty in imperfection, and the materiality, which deftly combines glass with light-coloured wood to create a calm setting consistent with the Aman ethos.

A sunken pool that is recessed into the slabs and is surrounded by gardens is also included in the plans for the exterior landscaping between the two buildings. The project aims to blur the lines between ocean, land and building, redefining the nouveau skyline. Aman plans to open the building in 2024. The building will be restful, delicate, and “based in the Japanese philosophical wisdom found in natural simplicity,” according to the designer.

References:

  1. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.dezeen.com/2022/07/15/kengo-kuma-aman-miami-beach/> [Accessed 25 July 2022].
  2. designboom, k., 2022. take a first look at aman miami, kengo kuma’s first residential tower in the U.S.. [online] designboom | architecture & design magazine. Available at: <https://www.designboom.com/architecture/kengo-kuma-associates-aman-miami-beach-residences-tower-07-14-2022/> [Accessed 25 July 2022].
  3. The Architect’s Newspaper. 2022. Kengo Kuma unveils its first residential tower in the United States. [online] Available at: <https://www.archpaper.com/2022/07/kengo-kuma-unveils-first-residential-tower-united-states/#:~:text=Japan%2Dbased%20Kengo%20Kuma%20and,outposts%20all%20over%20the%20world.> [Accessed 25 July 2022].
  4. Nast, C., 2022. Exclusive Look at Kengo Kuma’s First Residential Tower in the U.S.. [online] Architectural Digest. Available at: <https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/see-the-first-look-at-kengo-kumas-first-ground-up-residential-tower-in-the-us> [Accessed 25 July 2022].
Author

An architect by profession, Soumya is a history enthusiast and an avid traveller who loves to capture buildings and pen down her architectural perspectives. She has a keen interest in analyzing the role of architecture in building a city as a whole. She believes in designing spaces where people can unravel and compose themselves.

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