Heller Residence #2 (“Birdcage House”), Miami Beach, FL, 1949.
Colder weather here in the lowcountry has me dreaming of winter in Miami. So, this newsletter’s Iconic Building Of The Month is Igor Polevitzky’s design of the Heller Residence #2, also known as the Bird-Cage House.
Constructed in 1949, the home was considered a radical experiment in outdoor living, a house as a “volume of screened space”.
The screened home encloses a pool and tree within its split-level concrete decks, while the exterior landscaping features a lagoon and sandy beach. The building incorporated the use of new materials, including a diaphanous aluminum screen and open-web steel trusses, never seen in residential construction before.
The Heller Residence #2 was the most popular in a series of homes that Polevitzky designed between 1936 and 1949.
Referred to as Tropotype (a mash up of the words tropical and prototype), the homes were specifically designed for the South Florida environment, emphasizing health, happiness and productivity for its owners.
All the tropotypes utilized passive-energy designs in conjunction with an ambiguous envelope to encourage an indoor‐outdoor lifestyle.