Tehama Grasshopper / Fougeron Architecture


Architects: Fougeron Architecture
Location: San Francisco, CA,
Project Team: Anne Fougeron, Todd Aranaz, Toby Stewart, Dennis Luedeman (Architectural Metals), Endres Ware Architects / Engineers (Structural Engineering)
Project area: 418 sqm
Project year: 2007
Photographs: Richard Barnes & Rien Van Rijthoven

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  • To transform a two-story, concrete San Francisco warehouse into a modern, elegant office and residence.
  • To make a sanctuary for a young family that embraces the city’s structure and landscape yet creates an atmosphere of intimacy and repose.
  • To infuse an old, abandoned warehouse district with the vibrancy of a new neighbourhood – one building at a time.



A surprising integration of old and new elements, of competing urban forces, brings the remodeled warehouse alive. Three stories of interlocked spaces have distinct personalities and functions: office, main living area, and penthouse. The rigidity of the original concrete structure is broken down in a subtle interplay of light, surfaces, levels, and indoor and outdoor spaces-making the urban living experience as richly textured as the city itself.

Industrial and Residential

The new lobby for the ground-floor office space opens onto a private residential entry with a custom steel staircase. This simple, unassuming entrance remains true to the industrial nature of the building and surrounding neighborhood.


Public and Private

The second floor is the main living space for the young owners and their child. Its focus: a new courtyard, cut out from the existing floor plate, that connects the building to the new penthouse above and to the sky. This vertical section offers multiple layers of transparency and views from one floor to the next, thus interweaving the inside and outside spaces with a play of light and dark.

According to the owners’ request, clear glass walls enclose bathrooms and a child’s bedroom, confounding notions of public and private. The viewer’s eye is kept in constant motion from a multitude of angles. This visual enticement, and the size and scale of the interior spaces, lend beautifully to the flow of life within and throughout the house.


Rough and Refined

All the new elements in the living space-kitchen, bathroom, and storage-are treated as eight-foot-tall cabinetry, floating within the existing volume. Old and new are allowed to live together in what reads as one, large space: rough warehouse framing and concrete walls; refined, pristine cabinetry and glass windows.

Urban and Natural Beauty

The airy third-floor penthouse addition is the centerpiece of the design. The geometry of this sculptural object is a deliberate contrast to the orthogonal grid of the existing concrete structure.

Reminiscent of rooftop staircase enclosures on old San Francisco warehouses, the penthouse adds natural form to the urban landscape-like a grasshopper settled lightly on the building surface. From all vantage points at the rooftop level, the owners enjoy breathtaking views of the city skyline.


The penthouse living area includes the master bedroom and bathroom as one free-flowing space. It wraps around the courtyard, interweaving the upstairs and downstairs levels. Clear glass panes-again a requirement of the owners-offer no visual privacy. Their connection to outer world is a celebration of urban living.


  • Adaptive reuse of an existing, underutilized warehouse. The existing building was adapted for a mixed-use function, allowing both commercial and residential uses enhance and improve the neighborhood.
  • Heating system. Radiant concrete floors both in the penthouse and on the main level allow for the elimination of ductwork. The energy usage is significantly lower and more efficient than the traditional forced air system. The quality of heat is also more uniform and comfortable for the residents.
  • Operable glazing for ventilation. We kept the existing exterior window system, preserving its operable elements. In addition, the courtyard space allows for large glass sliders that admit natural ventilation. Upstairs, the glass sliders are also operable. The sliding doors both on the main level and in the penthouse, combined with the open stairwell allows for a ‘stack ventilation effect’ – letting the building expel excess heat without mechanical equipment.
  • Natural daylight. The previously dark warehouse was transformed into a light filled residence with the addition of an interior courtyard and several skylights. This reduces the load on artificial lighting and raises the comfort level for the residents. Also, all new glazing is insulated and has a low-e coating, reducing the solar gain on the interior.
  • Efficient artificial lighting. The required artificial lighting primarily uses high efficiency, dimmable, T-5 florescent tubes. We were able to eliminate the commonly found incandescent recessed ceiling cans. The dimmable florescent tubes allow the residents to adjust the light levels as necessary.
  • Low VOC & sustainable finishes. The interior paint and other interior finishes are low VOC. Also, the added insulation in the walls is formaldehyde free.
  • Solar orientation. The penthouse addition opens itself to large expanses of glass on the north and south sides. The east and west elevations are solid, structural walls with clerestory glazing. This provides thermal mass, blocking excess heat from entering the building. Also, roof overhangs on the south elevation block harsh summer light while allowing winter sun to enter and warm the space.
  • Exterior cor-ten steel cladding. This natural material cladding the new roof penthouse was chosen for its durability and longevity, as well as its reactive nature with the environment and the passing seasons. The steel will oxidize over time, eventually turning from a black to various hues of orange. This natural process forms a protective coating over the un-oxidized steel beneath.
  • Roof deck. The penthouse addition allows for access to the roof, where a wood ipe deck was added. The urban site does not allow for a front or back yard for the young family of three, so the roof deck was added for their use. There are plans for a garden and planting in the future. The species of wood used, ipe is highly durable and a fast-growth material.


  • Countertops – carrera marble
  • Cabinetry – conversion varnish finish
  • Floors (kitchen, courtyard) – poured resin
  • Floors (other) – polished & stained concrete
  • Staircase – blackened hot rolled steel
  • Roof Deck – ipe wood
  • Exterior Cladding – cor-ten steel
  • Courtyard Glazing – insulated aluminum sliding doors
  • Penthouse Glazing – insulated glass, custom steel frames
  • Existing walls – poured-in-place concrete
Cite: "Tehama Grasshopper / Fougeron Architecture" 06 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=31040>
  • j

    just not digging the shower right across the family room and courtyard in plain view? just doesnt seem like comfortable living to me unless youre a nudist

    • o+c

      I love this project, but was a bit shocked when I looked out the window of my friend’s office and caught a full (steamy) view of a man showering in the penthouse shower.
      I couldn’t pull my eyes away, but it was genuinely horrific.

      • j

        exactly, thats just wrong. Yes I did appreciate this project as well. Just the placement threw me off , and let’s hope nobody else has to undergo a fixated gaze on someone taking a steamy one against their own conscience.

  • The Big Black & White Zebra

    I don’t like the design, but thank God!…

    Something like a genuine loft… the word became a depressing cliche and the opposite of what lofts were about.

    Spaces built by developers instead of found by individuals, ceilings covered with plasterboard instead of left open, plumbing and soil hidden instead of being left as it was, vast spaces of industrial buildings sub-divided by developers so each unit was tiny but contained some fragment of the original industrial aesthetic to qualify it as a ‘loft’.

    Any space no matter how small that had a galleried bedroom, an open plan kitchen and a small fragment of Crital’s window was termed ‘loft’. So…

    … refreshing to see some angle irons, caged staircase and hanging soil pipes from the ceiling.

  • Jon

    Hey if the designers for this project are reading this I have two things to say ….
    1.) i have no idea what these guys are talking about, because this is an amazing project, and
    2.) This is what i call good design !!!
    Keep up the the good work … please, I mean really there are not many good buildings coming into the world which can merge the three realms of exterior expression, interior interaction, and HUMAN SCALE AND RELATIONSHIP quite like this

    • Jonjon

      Well said Jon, J & The Big Black & White Zebra do not know what they are talking about…..This is Great work from Fougeron Architecture

  • Jonjonjon

    I want to say the same as Jon and Jonjon

  • Mookie Wilson

    My favorite part is the combination of the concrete structure and the white painted wood joists/floor plates. Elegant and you can read the superstructure running through the whole building.
    One problem though: are these people fucking crazy? I hope the owners are still of reproducing age because they’re going to need another child. That poor little thing is never going to survive a childhood with those stairs. (And they’re passe!)

  • Minimised _S


  • The Big Black & White Zebra

    Hey Jonjon
    You can love a building, like a building, appreciate a building, respect a building, be indifferent or hate a building – all are valid…
    I think I was somewhere between like and appreciate…
    My view was irrelevant – I was trying to make a point about lofts… and I think this is a decent example among thousands and thousands of recent bad ones.

  • http://www.structurehub.com/blog StructureHub Blog

    Blackening the concrete outside was a genius decision; it took years off the apparent age of the structure and was a clever way to set it apart from its neighbors without doing anything expensive or controversial. Its apparent refinement is amplified when proceeding into an interior bathed almost entirely in white.

  • Sonic

    beautiful project – congrats to the architects!

  • sullka

    wow…..the japanese culture thing isn’t valid here, those bathrooms left me wondering, I don’t see in any picture a ceiling’s gap for a shade or curtain in those bathrooms.

    I do like the apartment, aside from some weird tilted glazzing, it’s a nice space, really opened.

    Now, on a side note, those clients are nuts, ok, you can be an exhibitionist, but to make your child one?, shoulnd’t that be a personal decision?, I won’t be surprised if there’s a spike in peeping-toms or even pedophiles in that neighborhood, all of them looking for the new “fish tank” penthouse.

    Atleast they left enclosed the powder room for visitors.

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