Bay Area, CaliforniaThe Bay Area Residence was designed as a house of serenity for a couple with returning family. The property is set in an older established neighborhood with dense planting. There was an existing house on the small 75 x 150 foot lot, in which plantings overwhelmed the spaces and the house had no breathing room. However, after visiting it didn’t take long to determine to build new rather than remodel as all the existing spaces seemed compromised.
The new program was unique as it called for a central gathering room and two master suites - each suite with a bedroom, bathroom, office and garden. The existing non-conforming garage informed the layout of the plan. Conceptually, the design of the 4,000 square foot house evolved into a simple composition of three boxes that formed the boundaries of the main gathering space. With its focus on the timber bamboo, this space was conceived to be a part of the garden.
From the street the minimal aluminum fence opens for cars and pedestrians and contains secure mail storage. A return of many existing plantings provided a mature and dense landscape – a return to what was there before. The main entrance, elevated a required two steps to protect against flooding, is enclosed by skin of aluminum and glass that is supposed to be conceptually invisible. The two adjacent corners of the boxes create a sense of an entry.
Once inside the house the simple diagram of the boxes becomes evident – the textured structure of the roof floats above the boxes. The space between the roof and boxes increases your sense of being outside and the continuity of the wood siding only reinforces that inside/outside ambiguity. The basic materials – cedar siding, fir rafters, fir ceiling planks and concrete – created a texture and pattern for the main space. The stairwell is lined with white walls to reinforce the differences
between the exterior wood skin of the box and the interior spaces.
The wall of the kitchen containing the large appliances and hood was recessed into one of the boxes. This was done to lessen its impact on the main space. The island with the hanging light was used as a spatial divider. This island also functioned as an informal eating area. The materials and colors are very limited and the exterior siding wraps the box with mitered corners.
On either side of the main gathering space, the boxes are containers for each master suite. The spaces within the boxes, entered through blind doors, are all white and carpeted. This contrast is important to the conceptual ideas of the project. The white spaces allow a great deal of flexibility, as the furnishings and textiles can have their own personality.