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Allan S. Miller, New York City, United States

Friday 08 Apr 2011

Romema Towers

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Residential towers in Jerusalem seek to evoke traces of the ancient city 

The object of Allan S. Miller's Romema Towers design is to improve the density of land use for a mobile class of homeowners, whose preferences and means typically result in sprawling developments. The design attempts to fit the features of an upscale, detached dwelling into a conventional tower envelope.

The tower's compact shape combines structural economy with the energy efficiency of low surface to volume ratio. Using minimal footprint, excess volume in the zoning envelope is distributed meaningfully into each unit to benefit selected spaces. This affords a spatial diversity customarily achieved only in penthouse apartments without perimeter constraints.

Set in Jerusalem, these interiors seek to evoke the ancient city with connotations ranging from the desert-cave primordial to the colonial-baronial. The unit's choreography is simple and direct, while its volumes contain a satisfyingly complete visual experience.

Programmed attributes for all units in the building typically include the following:

'Through-unit' design with views and cross-ventilation to both sides of the
building, across a center-corridor plan. The center corridor minimizes
unrentable elevator lobby area, provides best sight-lines for security and simplest service and stair shafts.

Living rooms have four meter high ceilings and six meter high atriums overlooked by a tiered interior balcony. Split-level communal spaces, with living and dining functions, are visually interlocked for continuous panoramic views.

Tall formal spaces remain unshaded by exterior projections. Balconies have a vertical separation of three stories, conveying the impression of penthouse conditions in all communal spaces. Natural clerestory lighting enters the deepest recesses of the larger spaces, and direct sun falls on terrace gardens.

A portion of the exterior balcony serving each apartment is free of any overhang for the building's entire height. The apartment conforms to Sukkah holiday religious requirements.

Master bedrooms are remote from minor bedrooms. Separate levels preserve the sanctity of formal and private zones in the unit. All vertical modules nest to conserve building height and volume.

An ornamental stair connecting the four levels of each apartment is exposed for sculptural potential within the taller formal spaces. Their support walls convey plumbing stacks through the building without offsets. The displacement of levels in the basic arrangement are conducive to a healthy active lifestyle, while the system permits the introduction of a disabled-accessible apartment on the entry level.

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allan s. miller, r.a.

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