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Joseph Vecchione Final Analysis Arch-165 Solar Umbrella Paul Rudolph’s original “Umbrella House” of 1953 inspires the modern day Solar Umbrella built originally in the 1920’s. Originally a small 650 square foot bungalow, the owners added a 1,150 square foot addition in 2005 that boasts many upgrades, most notably the solar canopy that tops off the structure making it nearly 100% energy neutral. This space implies a weightless quality consisting of minimal walls and windows. The Solar Umbrella is praised for it’s environmentally friendly design, and according to one critic it, “establishes a precedent for the next generation of Californian modern architecture (Blackboard).” Like many homes in Venice built in the 1920’s, this house was a single-story bungalow. The original structure contained only the essentials that are a kitchen, small dining and living rooms, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. However, there was room for expansion and Pugh + Scarpa took advantage of this and Venice’s abundant sunlight to create the modern day Solar Umbrella. The addition consists of a new living room that has large sliding glass doors that open out onto the garden, erasing the boundary of inside and outside. The kitchen and dining areas were enlarged. They added a master suite and storage area as well all without drastically changing the structure. (Snoonian) By only looking at the space, it seems as if the Solar Umbrella can come with its disadvantages. How will it maintain a steady temperature if half the home is outdoors? How is it livable if the home is exposed to direct sunlight? The solar canopy protects the home from solar gain. Heat retaining concrete, glazed overhangs and windows allow cross ventilation. This allows the house manage its own interior temperature. Radiant in- floor heating, powered by one of three solar hot-water panels, ups the temperatures when cooler temperatures set in. The remaining two panels heat the household water supply and the pool. (Kumar) Overall, critics are ultimately pleased with both the Solar Umbrella’s design and environmentally friendly assets it features. Deborah Snoonian, Senior Editor for Architectural Record magazine believes Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa, architects and clients for the Solar Umbrella, have revolutionized the modern home industry. They have successfully merged comfort and sustainability to create a piece of art that is functional and manageable. Many people will think that the Solar Umbrella is more costly than a “traditional” home. However, this is not the case at all. The home’s estimated coat is priced in the mid-$300,000 range, which is below the average price for a home in Southern California. Since the home gains 95% of it’s electricity from solar energy, the energy bill for the Solar Umbrella is $500 for the entire year. Some homeowner’s energy bills can reach $500 per month. Another argument could be that the mild climate of Venice, California, where the Solar Umbrella is located, makes it easier to live in a home like this. However, according the home’s architect, Lawrence Scarpa, this home can be built anywhere. Will it look the same? No, but it will actually be more cost efficient in a cooler climate because the higher usage of the solar canopy makes the price you pay for the home pay off faster. So why aren’t more homes like these built if they use little to no energy, they are more cost efficient, and are just as comfortable as a “traditional” home? The Solar Umbrella is a groundbreaking idea for the future of architecture and hopefully homes like these are built in the future and encourage us to start using alternate forms of energy. With the economy the way it is in times like these, homes such as the Solar Umbrella could help the architectural industry in a time of uncertainty, they could significantly help the environment, and they could provide a cost efficient, comfortable, and stylish alternative for homeowners of the future.
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