Unsurprisingly, many new homes in San Francisco address issues of providing adequate living space in a dense urban environment — while capitalizing on the Bay Area's beguiling geography. That means multi-storied, slender homes and condos that make use of extensive glazing to provide a sense of openness and connection to the city.
These inspired design solutions are on full display during the San Francisco Living Home Tours on Sept. 20 and 21 in conjunction with the month-long Architecture and the City Festival, organized by AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design. Today, we offer a look inside the 11 homes that will be opening their doors in the coming weeks. Learn more and purchase tickets on the festival's official website.
Photo by Cesar Rubio
Douglass Park by Azevedo Design
Azevedo Design renovated their client’s home from a compartmentalized 1970s design to one that highlights volume and light. The main living space is a long rectangle stretching from a front deck overlooking cypresses to a two level patio with a view of the bay. A light monitor illuminates the center dining area and adds to the subtle variety of ceiling heights. In the kitchen, custom oak cabinets wrap around a marble and stainless steel island with a section of glass floor revealing a wine cellar below. A small bath and closet combine to become a spa bathroom with a Japanese soaking tub. The exterior was reinvented with new materials in a charcoal palette.
Photos by Joe Fletcher
FittyWun House by Feldman Architecture
The design for FittyWun House reflects the playful, sometimes overly spirited personalities of the clients — a couple with three active young boys. The front facade is an interpretation of a traditional townhouse — a simple composition to blend in with the neighborhood but exposing a hint of the modern interior through scale and material choice. Nooks and clever storage solutions allow the great room, a place for cooking, eating, working, and playing, to be the hub of the household without clutter. The living room flows out onto a deck and into the backyard where there is plenty of space for the kids to play. The metal-screened stair, backed by a tiled feature wall, leads from the street level entry to the upper floor where a catwalk connects the bedrooms and rings the atrium. A diagonal stair over the atrium leads up to an acoustically separated office “pod” and the roof deck. The roof deck, surrounded by a green roof, looks out to a stunning view of Mt. Sutro and Sutro Tower.
Photo by Paul Dyer
Elizabeth Street Residence by Malcolm Davis Architecture
To accommodate the needs of a growing family, the young parents of two sought to add a third story to their existing home and create a warm, modern space by capturing natural light and breaking down the house’s dated “formal” boundaries and limited sense of connection and flow. Creating the new central stairway and adding new light wells at the east and west property lines allow light to reach through all three levels. Exposed structure running through the skylight at the top level works to bounce and diffuse light and add a sense of discovery. The main floor level was completely reoriented to take advantage of the south facing rear garden. With generous cabinetry and a walk-in pantry, the new open kitchen is the center of the house. With its new 11’ ceiling, the great room also contains the main living and dining spaces as well as a sliding glass wall that opens to the deck beyond, inviting seamless indoor/outdoor living. An exterior stair in turn connects this level to the garden below.
Photos by Bruce Damonte
Noe House by Studio VARA
A research scientist with an eye for detail approached Studio VARA with a modest vision to transform a 1908 Noe Valley cottage — with a history of subpar alterations — into a cohesive modern dwelling; to provide an enclosed garage in a neighborhood with tough parking; and to create an organized space for a sprawling collection of wine. The grand stair separates public spaces to the south and private spaces to the north. The new garage is incorporated into the “public” massing, with guest suites both above and below. To the north, the open living area at the heart of the home bleeds out through the folding window wall to the east-facing deck beyond, where one can bask in the panoramic views of the City and East Bay, or contemplate the juxtaposition of urban and natural in the garden below. Above this main space is the master suite, which takes advantage of even grander views through both framed openings and a lofty private deck. Down below, the beloved collection of wine is nestled into the steeply sloping site with thermal mass insulation and cooling for consistent climate, and floor-to-ceiling shelving with room to grow.
Photos by Bruce Damonte
SteelHouse 1 and 2 by Zack/de Vito Architecture
SteelHouse 1 and 2 is an exploration in maximizing the density of urban infill housing in an already dense city; in creating small, but spatially dynamic and efficient spaces; in the creative and expressive use of a standard palette of materials and hand-crafted details — all to achieve unique, comfortable and unapologetic modern buildings in what is typically an architecturally conservative city.
Sited on a typical 25-by-100-foot San Francisco lot with a 800-square-foot, 100-year-old dilapidated cottage built in what is generally the required rear yard, this oddly sited house became an opportunity for an architect. By converting the ground floor garage to living space, the existing cottage resulted in a two level 1400-square-foot home with three bedrooms, three baths, and an open plan living space. A new, three level structure was built on the street frontage, with a garage, entry, and den on the ground floor; and a two level, 1,400-square-foot, three bedroom, two bath, and an open plan living space above. The standard model of stacked flats was taken apart to create two small, detached houses with a common courtyard entry court.
Photo by Joe Fletcher
Private Residence 1 by Garcia Tamjidi Architects
Designed for a couple whose hobby is racing motorcycles and setting world land speed records, this flat becomes a private retreat from an adrenaline-charged lifestyle. Originally a two bedroom, one and a half bath condominium, the floor plan was stripped of all but completely utilitarian necessities. To soften the transition from open to enclosed spaces, large panels of glass make up the walls of the powder room and master bathroom — the only enclosed rooms in the residence. Windows wrap the south and east facing walls allowing natural light to filter into the open floor plan. The interior view, a place to relax, meditate and dream, provides a counterpoint to the openness of city and water views. Interior points of views are established throughout by the use of lighting, creating opportunities for pieces of art. A small, south facing terrace with teak decking allows for a connection to the sky and water views, and is often left open, inviting the outside in.
Photo by Sharon Risedorph
Situated on a triangular corner site, the Buena Vista Residence is a well proportioned home that responds to the scale of the neighborhood context. The building’s modern aesthetic is immediately apparent in the two wood-clad volumes connected by a tall glass atrium all sitting atop a concrete plinth. The variegated tone and grain of the redwood siding, reclaimed from nearby Hanger One at Moffett Field, achieves an ideal balance between the home’s clean, structured lines and the urban foliage surrounding the site. A concrete and steel exterior staircase provides a bold yet inviting approach to the home’s second floor entrance. Expansive walls provide ample space for the owner’s extensive art collection. Thoughtfully placed windows not only frame views of the surrounding city and San Francisco Bay but also allow an abundance of natural daylight to filter into the home. An elegant steel and wood staircase with open risers leads up to a cantilevering catwalk spanning across the third floor, connecting the master bedroom and an exterior roof deck.
Photos by Tim Griffith
Rene Cazenave Apartments by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
As the first new building constructed in San Francisco’s Transbay Redevelopment Area, Rene Cazenave Apartments replaces a former freeway off-ramp and parking lot with innovative permanent supportive housing for formerly chronically homeless individuals who have physical and mental disabilities. The building program consists of 120 mini-apartments, support services, community spaces, and amenities, in addition to neighborhood-serving retail. In keeping with the transit-oriented location, the building has no parking on site.
Hyde by Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects
Located in the city’s Russian Hill neighborhood, an existing 1920s cast-in-place concrete parking garage is converted into seven condominiums, a small retail space, and 14 parking spaces. In addition to a complete interior renovation, a new penthouse is added with panoramic Golden Gate Bridge views. Formally, the project exposes the rough character of the existing building structure and shell. The infrastructure required for the new programs are hidden in abstract boxes which are organized by layout lines spawned from the existing building. A 50-foot-high monumental stair connects all the levels and delivers daylight into the heart of the building.
Shotwell House by Todd Davis Architecture
Reimagined as a quiet retreat on a mixed-use Mission block, this former munitions depot was transformed into a single family residence by reworking existing forms. A bunker-like concrete structure was cut in half to form a covered patio that opens onto a new central courtyard. The residence behind was remodeled around a large central kitchen, with a combination skylight/hatch providing ample light and roof access. The multiple structures are tied together by untreated cedar siding, intended to gradually fade to gray to match existing concrete and corrugated steel.