Smoke and mirrors: Alchemist, Miami, USA by Rene Gonzalez Architect.
Text: Detail Daily
The carpark is fantastic, but that was designed by Herzog & de Meuron. On this occasion it is the glass boutique designed by Rene Gonzalez that has been inserted into the filth floor of the carpark that is of particular interest. One reason to linger on this project is because it suggests a far longer term perspective for the design of buildings. At some point thousands of carparks that have headrooms of less than 2m will have to be demolished if, and lets be optimistic, the current love affair with cars sours as a result of their environmental impact. Designing carparks that can be adapted to different uses and will therefore have an afterlife, is not just sensible, but an altogether positive thing.
This design however does not rely on common sense but rather exuberant design that made it the winner of the 2011 National AIA Institute Honor Award, and a 2012 AZ award winner.
Inserting a boutique on the 5th floor of a carpark seems to goes against so many established retail principles, that it is hard to see the logic. But the designers realised that it is about creating a connection between the street, and therefore the customers parading around down there, and the boutique. This is achieved in two ways: firstly the reflective materials used to create the boutique capture the movement and general energy from down below to animate the boutique space. Conversely, from inside that connection, and the dynamic energy it produces, reconnects the space back with the street. The boutique is visible from many vantage points in Miami Beach, and the reflections make it conspicuous.
The entire boutique in fact is energized by the movement that surrounds it. This energy is amplified by a kinetic mirror installation that picks up the movement of customers in the shop, and ripples the mirrors in sync with them, pausing and moving when they do.
Disconcerting perhaps, but brilliant!