Project Brief: 2,700 SqFt Home in Miami Beach that has been completely renovated to suit the needs of the 13-Year-old Autistic Boy who will be living in this space as its primary resident.
The Boy's father, who lives on the same island, wanted to create a space for his son that allowed him to grow with his independence and sense of responsibility and would be more suited for his developmental needs while still being close enough to see him daily and be only minutes away in case of emergency. The son suffers from a severe case of Autism, along with a group of developmental disorders that often come with it, and he is cared for 24/7 by a caretaker with whom he shares this recently completed home.
Careful consideration was put into every aspect of the design of this home, with two main principles; the first being a space that felt comfortable not just for the Boy but also for the Caretaker. The existing typical layout of the home catered to a large primary bedroom suite and small bedrooms. These spaces needed to be reconfigured to give the Boy and the Caretaker individual spaces that would feel like a permanent home.
The other principle emphasized the unique sensory experiences that come with Autism. For example, the Boy is especially sensitive to sound and light; at night, a slight amount of either can prevent him from relaxing enough to sleep. Therefore, rooms were placed to keep a large sound buffer between the Boy and the rest of the home, and all new partitions were built with high-density sound insulation for even more acoustical consideration. Throughout the house, we worked with a palette of soft natural colors and materials to instill a sense of calmness in the Boy.
A proven therapy method for the Boy has been sports; he is highly athletic and feels most comfortable when he can engage with the Caretaker or his Father in sports. To encourage this, we installed a new swimming pool and basketball hoop and re-imagined the third bedroom as a learning center where he can express himself daily.
The entire MEP systems of the home were also revamped to fit the program; The existing AC was on the roof above the main bedroom and could be heard through the structure; this was replaced with a more energy-efficient modern system at ground level, doing this also allowed us to install completely new ducts throughout the home to ensure he would be breathing the cleanest air possible.
Electrical wiring was also wholly replaced to control an intelligent and more energy-efficient system that would control every aspect of the house; this would handle tasks such as turning off every device in the bedroom at night to make sure he could sleep without any light interruption, and control the locks on all doors so he would never wander out of the home accidentally into danger.
Plumbing throughout the house was also wholly reinstalled; the old crumbling cast iron pipes were replaced, and a filtration system was installed to filter all water coming into the home. Routine is crucial to managing his Autism; we wanted to make sure the Boy was starting with a blank canvas to avoid any future repairs that would interfere with his day-to-day schedule.
Miami Beach, Florida