Umerani Residence

Los Altos, California

The Umerani Residence is located in an established suburban neighborhood in Los Altos, California; just south of San Francisco. The house is contained in a simple wooden envelope delineated by steel structural elements that allow the house to open inward onto a central stone court and reflection pool. Public and private spaces are organized along opposite sides of the stone court. Glazing around the stone court allows for dynamic visual connections to the communal spaces inside the house and surrounding landscape.

The client, a structural engineer, played a vital role in the structural design of this house. His livelihood is laid out before the observer through the elegant and rigorous structural expression of articulated steel columns and beams.

Paying respect to the established suburban nature of the site, a stone path was laid on axis with the street creating a strong sense of arrival. Upon approach, the entry trellis and louvers slowly begin to create shelter for the guest. The overlapping texture of the louvers allow for careful glimpses of the surrounding environment. The approach is a theatrical procession of engaging visual cues, linking the suburban context to the inner court through subtle transparencies.

Sustainable environmental systems in the house also play a vital role. Operable transom windows along the court provide the opportunity for passive ventilation, creating comfortable temperatures and a direct connection to the sublime California environment. The generous overhangs surrounding the court offer shade for passive cooling throughout the year. Active systems were also incorporated to complete the overall environmental systems package. These active systems include solar hot water panels which provide all of the domestic hot water needed for the house. Photovoltaic panels on the roof generate enough electricity to feed back into the power grid, while radiant flooring produces efficient heating in the winter.


2012 Merit Award
AIA East Bay, Exceptional Residential: Bay Area Regional Design Awards
2010 Notable Award, Live Category
International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
2010 Honor Award
AIA Santa Clara Valley
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