This conceptually modern house fits contextually into its Victorian neighborhood, taking its cue from the “house above the shop” urban archetype that has existed for centuries. The first floor of the upper unit functions as an office, while on the second floor a split-level living room and kitchen open onto a deck with a small sod roof of California native grasses.
The apartment is entered at street level through a custom door of acrylic strips and left-over strips of Walnut from a local cabinet shop. Seen from the outside at night, these acrylic strips glow. From the inside during the day, light shines through illuminating the entry hall. Climbing the stairs to the first floor of the apartment brings you to a foyer, facing etched glass sliding doors that enter into the office. Two bedrooms and a bathroom, share this floor. Continuing up, a sky lit stair climbs up on the west wall and enters the living room floor behind a 1970′s Dieter Rams designed Vitsoe shelving system modified to accommodate custom cabinetry.
On the living floor the focus is the connection between indoor and outdoor living. A roof extends over a large portion of the south facing deck creating a protected outdoor living room. Continuity is maintained by using two sliding glass walls and by using the same Ipe plank floor in the interior and exterior with no floor level height change. A rotating fireplace hangs outside. When the glass wall is slid open, the fireplace can be turned to face the interior and the distinction between inside and out can be broken down further. Zoned radiant heat in the floors warms the house and a 2KW photovoltaic net metering system provides more electricity than the apartment can use.
The project responds to the family’s desire to live a modest lifestyle integrating home, work, and time spent outdoors. Carefully planning the rooms to function flexibly and placing priority on the quality of space over quantity created a dramatic sustainable gain⎯rather than having a separate home, a separate artist’s studio and a separate office, all these function perfectly under one roof and in a third the usual size.