Telegraph Hill Residence – The project draws inspiration from the landscape as a source of both prospect and refuge. In designing the front entry stair, the team took advantage of the challenging spatial conditions to create overlooks to access the spectacular views from the site, and to provide an experiential journey leading from the sidewalk to the front door. At the rear of the house, a sheltered shade garden comprised of soft plantings and blossoming trees provides a quiet refuge. The design elicits visceral responses to the landscape and encourages introspection and connection to the larger environment.
Architizer chatted with Andrea Cochran, ACLA Founding Principal at Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, to learn more about this project.
Architizer: What inspired the initial concept for your design?
Andrea Cochran: On any given day, the site experiences a large amount of wind, cold, and fog off the San Francisco Bay. At the same time, the views from the site toward the East Bay, waterfront, and downtown are unparalleled. It was important for the design team to create exterior spaces for the clients that would highlight and expand access to the landscape, while also considering the need for private refuge and comfort.
What do you believe is the most unique or ‘standout’ component of the project?
The Corten steel overlooks cantilever precipitously at the edge of the cliff, terminating in sheets of glass that dissolve the barrier between the user and the expansive landscape beyond. The clean walls of weathered steel contrast with raw cliff face and plantings, while the overlooks invite the user to enjoy the views. A porous ground plane of steel grating intensifies the psychological and physical experience by permitting views downward to the substantial drop below. Stepping from solid ground onto one of these overlooks triggers a variety of responses, from a sense of floating to one of vertigo.
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
The design team faced technical challenges on this precipitous hillside due to the potential instability of the cliffs below. Knowing that other cliffs in the area had collapsed in the past, the team worked closely with geotechnical and structural engineers to preserve and to protect the integrity of the cliff. The design challenge lay in creating more useable space on this hilltop, while making it possible to invite users to the cliff edge without compromising their safety or the stability of the site.
How have your clients responded to the finished project?
Our clients are thrilled that friends and visitors can experience the drama of their entry approach. The architecture of the home renovation was limited by the perceived historical nature of the residence. The owners hoped for a more modern design but were confined by regulations restricting the extent that the existing building envelope could be altered. The landscape was not bound by these requirements, and the owners were delighted by the landscape architects’ sculptural intervention that reflected their design aesthetic.
What key lesson did you learn in the process of conceiving the project?
Client trust and respect allows us to do our best work. We were hired to design a new entry walk to replace a stepped garden path to the front door. We had worked with the client on past projects and they embraced our audacious design. Had we not worked with them previously, we likely would have been reluctant to make such a proposal for fear they would be unreceptive or reject it outright. We will be more likely to take risks and push the design envelop in the future with other clients.
Team Members / Consultants
Lundberg Design (Architect)
For more on Telegraph Hill Residence, please visit the in-depth project page on Architizer.