Steel House
UCLA 2010 | Instructor: Jurg Lang

In this steel house construction, the priority was to maximize the interaction between the indoor spaces, outdoors spaces, and natural vegetation of the site and beyond. This is where the ideas of surfaces and subsurfaces arise. The interaction between surfaces is always difficult so it is important to determine which aspects of your design you want to read as surfaces and which ones you want to read as subsurfaces, as in the subsurfaces cannot be confused as their own entities, i.e. another surface. This concept also creates the ability to call attention to subsurfaces that may not necessarily be built or exclusively site specific.

To be more specific in this design the main surface is the translucent glass canopy that envelops the core housing components. The fact that this canopy is composed of glass panels laminated with 0.85 opacity solar cells obscures the underlying major structure of the house, thus obscuring its complete presence and thus only hinting at it. This major surface (solar panel canopy) not only renders the major building components as subsurface but it also calls attention to other subsurfaces not directly apparent at the site, namely the presence and movement of natural light.

The solar canopy calls attention to the movement of the sun across the site by allowing light to diffuse into interior spaces with the slight twist of certain panels changing that composition as the sun position changes throughout the day.

This idea further continues by allowing the natural landscape of the site to defy a specific boundary with the interior. The solar canopy acting as a large overhand creates ample outdoor space that can transition straight into the interior of the first and second floors. The opacity of this canopy allows for a seamless diffusing of light and nature back and forth from interior to exterior spaces.