Mobile Coffee Kiosk: Billy Goat Café

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Designed for a student owned and operated café for the School of Architecture at the University of Miami, the compact and mobile project has evolved beyond the dispensing of coffee to become an inspirational object.  As a piece of construction, the mobile coffee kiosk is modest (42.25 sq. ft.) but well-crafted, made entirely of Western Red Cedar supported on a welded hollow section aluminum frame. 

The whole structure is supported by casters that, once the structure is rolled into position, are leveled and fixed in place with (4) 1.5-ton car jacks keeping the wheels just an inch or so off the ground. The roof is a low-profile construction of thin sheets of fiber-reinforced plastic that allows the skip-sheathing of the roof to read from above at night. There are three drop-down, louvered panels with wide bottom sills, that when opened flat with the top plate of the lower louver, provide the countertops for the café. In addition to its overall craft, proportion and solidity, the cantilevered louver corner is one of the structure’s most daring and difficult details.  This detail required many hours of mock-up, rebuilding, and finish to achieve, but was essential in allowing light to penetrate the corner and underscore the idea of the lantern.

A source of pride for the architecture students who built it, the kiosk is also a full-scale reference for wood construction. In a city dominated by concrete construction, the tiny building stands as a tactile example of wood construction for architecture students who have limited exposure to it. The building can also be studied in its marketing operations and functions, since it is operated by students with profits going to fund the activities of the School of Architecture’s student organizations including the AIAS, USGBC Students, Student Council, and the student chapter of the CNU.

As a pedagogical tool in its conception, construction, and now use, the kiosk is a small project with a big impact and hopes to change the way we see portable architecture on campus. As an open-air, tropical structure during the day, it is a fun place to work and at night, when closed and not operating, it functions as a lantern contributing to the ambiance of the oak covered courtyard as a place of meeting and conversation. 


Client: University of Miami School of Architecture

Students: Victor Aroh, Giuliano d’Arrigo, Andrea Gonzales-Rebull, Stacy Griffith, James Harris, Zhengrong Hu, Brenna Johnson, Taylor Lichteberger, Emma May, Lauren O’Halloran, Adam Jared Raiffe, Angelica Tavarez, Hiwot Tefera

Faculty: Jim Adamson, Rocco Ceo