Umbrella Houses

Manuel Bradley Zavaleta, M.Arch '23


ARCH 505B: Graduate Architecture Design I

Gallery: Clusters and Aggregates: Housing and Urbanism

Instructor: Gary Paige

The project has its origins in a seminal work by Kazuo Shinohara, the Umbrella House (1962). Although it was the smallest house that he built at approximately 600 SF, in the original magazine description he describes an idea of “wasteful space” or “extra space” as a counterpoint to the idea of the minimum dwellings of the 1930s.

In the second studio project, Shinohara’s Umbrella House was re-imagined as a found object and reduced in size, and then doubled and offset in plan to create outdoor spaces between and adjacent to the two houses. The attempt was to critically extend Shinohara’s concept of extra or wasted space by making compact interior spaces that are adjacent to larger outdoor spaces…

In Project 3.0, the idea was further developed as a mat-scape of solid and voids. Initially, a “loose grid” organization was tested as way to produce spatial variation between the units. However, as the project evolved, a regular grid similar to the ceiling plan of Kahn’s Trenton Jewish Community Center was employed. Instead of “looseness” in plan, variation occurs in the Z-axis, in the building sections. Specifically, three different roof apex heights were used to create interior and exterior volumes of different heights, proportions, and use.


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