x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Watery wonders

With so many sea-view properties across the UAE, we look to Miami for inspiration on beachfront living.

Alexander Gorlin’s sixth-floor apartment offers far-reaching views of both the ocean and the Miami skyline. Courtesy of Red Cover / Anastassios Mentis
Alexander Gorlin’s sixth-floor apartment offers far-reaching views of both the ocean and the Miami skyline. Courtesy of Red Cover / Anastassios Mentis

Rarely does a building reflect the true essence of its architect. But not so with the Gorlin – a modern condominium building named after the architect Alexander Gorlin, the first of three internationally renowned architects chosen to design a trio of 12-story condominiums at 6101 Aqua Avenue, Miami Beach. “The envelope was defined by its wedge-shaped plan,” says Gorlin, whose site offers spectacular views of South Beach, the Miami skyline and the ocean.

Designed with layered planes, the Gorlin building is strategically positioned at the south end of the Aqua development, overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and picturesque Indian Creek on Miami Beach’s Allison Island. Gorlin was commissioned by the development’s master planner Duany Plater-Zyberk, the New Urbanism firm with whom he had previously worked on the celebrated Seaside development in Florida.

Bathed in soft light, the Gorlin’s whimsical first-floor lobby complements the building’s striking architecture with a dramatic two-storey ceiling, gleaming terrazzo flooring and the punch of primary colours. The openness integral to the architecture is prominently expressed here though features such as a glass balcony and open-riser stairway. Gorlin added a sense of drama to the space with sculptural furnishings such as Verner Panton’s iconic black and white S chairs.

However, in the development of the design, the Florida sun presented a formidable challenge – the glare would make it impossible to look at the exciting views. Gorlin solved this problem by creating a faceted, modern building that garnered normal perspective and concurrently subdued the sun’s glare through deep balconies with louvred metal brise-soleils.

With the design of the building underway, the New York-based Gorlin decided to make a home-away-from-home in his namesake structure by choosing a 2,600-square-foot, two-bedroom space on the sixth floor. Here, the designer introduces the modern milieu that flows throughout the building’s main areas, with striking art and bold colours. Soft blue walls pay tribute to Florida’s skies, while limestone flooring conveys an earthy hue.

The foyer establishes the playful attitude of the condominium with Column, an undulating sculpture by Judith Niedermaier, a black-and-white photo of a boxer by Tracy Rose and colourful, striped accent pillows. In the apartment’s main room, two walls of 10-feet-high windows and clerestories integrate views with the interior in a calculated sense of being on a boat. Parachute fabric is used as an ethereal window treatment to frame floor-to-ceiling views. A Girl Named Brancusi by Sean Mellyn hangs over a Cappellini sofa and is illuminated by an Isamu Noguchi floor lamp. “The building is like an anchored ship docked on the Intracoastal,” Gorlin says of the feel of his apartment.

Splashes of primary colours found in the accent pillows, art and furnishings refer to the building’s lobby and are complemented by a Marc Newson chair from Cappellini. Boasting polka dots in red, orange, grey and black, the chair mimics a canvas on which an exuberant artist has splattered paint. In contrast, a neutral area rug anchors a long sofa, a yellow occasional table by Konstantin Grcic and a low, square cocktail table. The table appears to be made of river stones embedded in concrete; in actuality, it’s simply made of foam.

Gorlin reinforced the openness of the room with a glass-and-steel dining room by Carlos Scarpa. Situated off the side, it adheres to the desired transparency exemplified by the room’s expansive windows. Custom-designed shelving contains Gorlin’s personal collections, including miniatures, mannequins, model planes and robots.

In his light-filled, airy apartment, Gorlin has created the ultimate beachside pad – a look that could easily be recreated in any number of beachfront properties across the UAE. Gorlin is respectful of the apartment’s stunning sea views, inviting them in and complementing them with a nature-inspired colour palette, but has also introduced pops of colour, drama and whimsy. Ultimately, the charm of this design lies in the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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