Neiman Taber Architects


Umbrella House

It's gray outside.

In the Northwest, abundant sunlight isn't yours for the asking. If you want it, you have to go out, club it, and drag it back to your cave.
Umbrella Houses are designed with over-sized windows to capture as much natural light as possible. Floor plans are open to borrow light between spaces and to maximize the potential to see through the house to the landscape and sky beyond. Plan configurations use the full width of the lot to maximize the wall area that faces the street and backyard, and minimizes the wall area that faces the adjacent houses.
Buildings are created that look onto the open sides of their lot, improving their exposure to natural light and open views. Openings are framed in a unique manner that allows the windows and doors to come all the way up to the ceiling. This provides more glass area in the exterior wall, and allows more opportunity to look to the horizon and see the dome of the sky.
Interior spaces remain bright even on the grayest days of winter.

It's wet outside.

It rains a lot here. This simple fact is reflected in every aspect of our architecture.
Umbrella Houses have roofs that protect the building from the weather and express the idea of shelter as their primary aesthetic. Broad overhangs protect the siding and create dramatic shadows. Roof pitches are relatively shallow to expose the underside of the soffits, where we often use textured plywood and natural finishes to provide dramatic effect. Natural materials are used in locations where they are well protected from the ravages of the weather. Cladding systems are designed using highly durable, low maintenance finishes, which minimize and often eliminate the need for painted surfaces. Typical exterior finishes include stucco with integral color topcoat, aluminum clad windows, trimless windows, and Ironwood windows sills and decks. Cladding systems employ high performance polypropylene building wrap, preformed window flashings, and a rain screen drainage plane that evacuates any water that gets behind the cladding. These features dramatically increase the useful life of the building. Future maintenance will be greatly reduced from that of a typical house.

It's nice outside.

Forget, for a moment, the rain and the gray - it’s actually quite nice here.
We enjoy a very temperate climate. We have moderate summers that don’t require air conditioning, mild temperatures in spring and fall, and very few of the insects that bedevil people in other parts of the country. Our climate allows us to open up our houses, to connect interior spaces with the outside environment.
Umbrella Houses feature operable walls that create seamless transitions from the living spaces to the decks and into the landscape beyond. Over-sized doors, operable windows, open floor plans are combined with double height spaces to encourage breezes, convection currents, and facilitate passive cooling of the house. Covered exterior spaces with greenhouse style roofing extends the season where the house can remain open to the outside.

David NeimanComment