Architects: LOHA Architects
Location: Mill Valley, California, USA
Principal in Charge: Lorcan O’Herlihy
Project Manager: Kuo-Huei Tsai
Project Team: Michael Poirier, Juan Diego Gerscovich, Su Yingzi
Structural Engineer: Paul Francheschi
Client: Tony and Rachel Sherman
Project year: 2005
Constructed Area: 386 sqm
Photographs: © Tim Griffith
The house sits on a south facing hillside on a ridge overlooking the upper Tamalpais Valley and San Francisco Bay beyond. The complexities found in the natural landscape and topography of Mill Valley, with its spiraling movement of folded planes and steep hillsides, established dynamic conditions critical to the direction of the overall architectural solution.
Complexity came in the tethering of the house to the hill. The primary level, which houses the main public spaces, is visually anchored to the site as it bends in plan along natural contour lines. Simultaneously, the house cantilevers over the precipitous incline, its main floor supported by horizontal steel beams. The beams attach to the rear house wall, reinforced for additional strength. In the rear, the house stands on steel columns with diagonal bracing embedded in concrete foundation beams. A composition of floating rain screen wood skin and smooth troweled plaster are innovatively used on the exterior skin to further articulate the geologic conditions of the surrounding valley.
The upper volume folds in section and in plan creating a dynamic dialogue with the main level. This level houses the glass walled master bedroom suite that has panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay.