This urban retreat for a young family combines renovation and additions to transform a previously mishandled structure into a remarkable home. By reusing over half of the original building and enhancing its environmental performance, the project reduces the home’s embodied carbon and ongoing carbon footprint.
Situated on a double-wide lot atop a bluff, adjacent to a community garden, the property offers a rare setting in the heart of the city. The expansive site overlooks the city and the bay, providing privacy and breathtaking views. Originally filled and leveled in the 1960s, the lot accommodated the original house and pool, known for hosting legendary parties. Subsequent renovations resulted in a disjointed layout that didn’t flow well with daily life.
The design approach brings clarity and openness to the home, employing a surgical strategy of retaining essential structural elements while introducing new features. Interventions break down the existing structure, reshaping the relationships and connections between rooms. Glass and natural light play a dual role, diffusing and unifying the composition, creating scenes that explore the concepts of inside/outside, private/public, light/dark, and materiality.
A prominent intervention is the addition of an all-glass pavilion housing a dining and family room. Blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors, this volume extends into the rear yard, providing sweeping views of the bay and East Bay hills. An aluminum and wood trellis provides shading without compromising the sense of expansiveness.
The existing two-story volume, previously dominated by a bulky staircase, is opened up to create a more fitting entryway and a versatile lounge area. A brown-glass staircase and bridge float within this space, connecting different levels and rooms while introducing an interplay of light and color. The brown glass, reminiscent of the home’s modern-era origins, transforms from solid to transparent with the changing daylight. Extending from this lounge area are two wings of living space: an open kitchen anchors the dining/living pavilion on one side, while a guest room and child’s playroom occupy the other side.
The upper floor is expanded and refined, with the master suite reimagined as a light-filled volume that seamlessly integrates with the outdoor space. A curved glass shower extends beyond the house envelope, intriguingly reaching the screened front balcony—an unexpected gesture to the street below. In this area, the interplay of privacy and views, light and shadow, pays homage to California’s Light and Space art movement.
Curved forms and playful elements, such as a child’s fire pole connecting the floors, counterbalance the home’s rectilinear shape. Finally, the front facade incorporates vertical and horizontal wooden boards and slats, echoing the trellises and partitions, unifying the home’s public and private expressions. This wood screen replaces an opaque street presence, creating a dynamic interplay with shifting light from day to night.
Architects: Fougeron Architecture
Area: 4038 m²
Photographs: Joe Fletcher
Manufacturers: AutoDesk, Dornbracht, Sky-Frame, Vibia, B&B Italia, Electrolux, Gaggenau, Miele, Alki, Arper, Berkley Mills, Bulthaup, Cassina, Classicon, Extremis, Filxfelt, Flos, Glas Italia, Kartell, Kyle Bunting, +13
Lead Architects: Anne Fougeron
Civil Engineering: Lea & Braze Engineering
Landscape: Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture
Contractor: Young and Burton Inc.
Structural Engineering: Endres Studio