I have been involved with this particular site since I first arrived in California back in 1992. Upon it once sat the home of my first employer’s parents. That home burned along with so many others in the tragic Oakland Hills Fire of 1991.
In 1992 I designed a home for the site, which was never built. The parcel changed hands several times over the decades until it arrived back in my sphere in 2012 when a friend of my then COO had purchased the lot. He asked us to tackle the challenge of fitting a home on this unusual, flag-shaped lot.
Sitting atop an outcrop in the Oakland Hills with panoramic views to San Francisco, Downtown Oakland, and several iconic Bay Area bridges, we arrived at a solution which connects indoor spaces with places near and far. Some rooms within the home connect directly to landscaped outdoor “rooms” on the site via oversized sliding glass doors. Others project toward grand vistas and distant Bay Area markers.
Here I collaborated with my good friend Randy Ruiz to devise an expression which pays homage to the chilling history of this beautiful site. Calling upon the burnt ruins that remained after the infamous Oakland Hills Fire of 1991, we composed a solution made from a combination of masonry and charred cedar siding.
Built from custom colored, ground face concrete block, the home’s “bones” recall the foundations and chimneys which remained after the fire. The burnt “shell” of shou shigu ban, represents the portions of the homes, which were destroyed in the fire. Shou shigu ban is a traditional Japanese technique whereby cedar siding is purposefully charred as a way to both permanently colorize and seal the material.