The Solar Umbrella home was built for principals Lawrence Scarpa and Angela Brooks to house themselves and their young son. Sustainability was made a top priority, with the goal being responsible living for the 21st century. Inspired by Paul Rudolph's Umbrella House of 1953, the Solar Umbrella provides a contemporary reinvention of the solar canopy-a strategy that provides thermal protection in climates with intense exposures-using photovoltaic panels to provide 100% of the home's energy needs. In addition to the photovoltaic solar panel array, the home's green aspects including solar hydronic heating panels, a storm-water retention system, and an airy, open design, with environmentally sound materials throughout. Many of the materials finishes are highly unconventional: eco-friendly and cost-effective building materials that are traditionally hidden from view are repositioned here as unusual and aesthetically appealing design elements.
But even considering all of Solar Umbrella's individual sustainable features, none can compete with the simple fact that the architects' comprehensive, holistic approach to the design raises the whole well above the sum of its parts. Careful, thorough consideration of environmental, livability, and aesthetic factors at every step of the design and implementation have produced a true exemplar of sustainable design excellence, garnering Pugh + Scarpa our second AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Project Award.