Nestled in a neighborhood of single story bungalows, on a 41×100 foot through lot, the Solar Umbrella addition transforms the architects’ existing 650 square foot bungalow into a 1900 square foot residence equipped for responsible living in the twenty-first century.
Taking advantage of the unusual through lot site condition, the addition shifts the residence 180 degrees from its original orientation. What was formerly the front and main entry at the north becomes the back as the new design reorganizes the residence towards the south and optimizes exposure to the energy rich southern sunlight.
Passive and active solar design strategies render the residence 100% energy neutral. Recycled, renewable, and high performance materials and products are specified throughout. Hardscape and landscape treatments are considered for their aesthetic and actual impact on the land.
A bold display of solar panels, wrapped around the south elevation and roof, becomes the defining, formal expression of the residence.
Conceived as a solar canopy, the panels protect the body of the building from thermal heat gain by screening large portions of the structure from direct exposure to the intense southern California sun. Rather than deflecting sunlight, this state of the art solar skin absorbs and transforms this rich resource into usable energy, providing the residence with 100% of its electricity.
Inspired by the California Modernist tradition the exterior spaces are conceived as outdoor rooms, blurring the transition between inside and outside, and creating a more dynamic relationship between the two.
A cast in place concrete pool provides a strong landscape element and defines the path to the front entrance. At the entrance the pool cascades into a lower tier of water that penetrates and interlocks with the geometry and form of the residence. Stepping stones immersed in the water reinvents the welcome mat. The distinction between inside and outside is once again blurred.
By removing only one wall on the south side, maintaining the original layout, the sizeable new addition ads a new entry, living area, master suite, and utility room to the existing bungalow. The old kitchen now opens into the large living area, facing the spacious front yard, where an operable glass wall defines the edge between interior and exterior.
Floating, folded plate steel stairs lead to the master suite, directly above the living area, that opens onto a deep covered patio overlooking the garden.
Conceptually reminiscent of R.M. Schindler’s Kings Road Residence, this patio extends the bedroom area outdoors, creating the sensation of a sleeping loft exposed to the exterior. The deep porch carves out an exterior space within the visual bounds of the building envelope and provides the front elevation with a distinctive character.
The dynamic composition of interlocking solids and voids add a richly layered depth to the design. Formal elements, stairs, bearing walls, structural columns, guard-rails, built-in furniture and cabinetry, vary in density, color and texture. A series of stepped roofs, glazed walls, and clerestory windows broadcast light from multiple directions.
Light and shadow, ephemeral and constantly changing effects, become palpable formal tools that enliven the more permanent and fixed elements of the design. Together, all of these components establish an effectively layered composition rich in visual and formal interest.