Oakland House / Kanner Architects

© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

Architects: Kanner Architects
Location: Oakland, California,
Client: Craig and Terri Rubenstein
Project Area: 394 sqm
Budget: $2.5 million
Project year: 2007
Photographs: Tim Griffith

© Tim Griffith © Tim Griffith © Tim Griffith © Tim Griffith

Located in Oakland, California, on a down-sloping site high above the San Francisco Bay, this home was designed to capture the magnificent vistas spanning from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge. Floor-to-ceiling glass clears the way to unobstructed views. The predominantly south-southwest orientation required deep overhangs to cut down glare and soften the light quality in the home.

The clients, a couple with grown children, wanted to create a dream home for their life as empty nesters, but still desired accommodations for their kids and other frequent guests. Thus, the four-bedroom home was planned as two distinct volumes connected by a glass bridge.

© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

The primary volume is all about the owners who sought luxury and transparency. The master suite is a spacious open area with a wall of glass connecting the residents with their setting and capturing the breathtaking bay. The tub and shower are open to the bedroom and separated from the outside only by glass. Also in this main structure are the open plan of living room and kitchen.

The secondary volume, the street-facing building, comprises less critical functions: a glass carport, three guest rooms and a recreation room.

© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

Spare and rigorously Modern in its aesthetic, the home has only a handful of materials and even fewer colors. floors, steel and glass window systems, and a mostly white composition of cabinetry and furnishings define the minimalist composition. Color is introduced subtly through blue plaster, landscaping, artwork and the dramatic views. The plaster, a meticulously trowelled herring bone scratch coat, has the illusory effect of a shimmering metal finish.

© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

The building’s bowed walls – an hourglass in plan – are a response to the client’s desire for curvilinear forms as well as a strategy to satisfy municipal setback regulations. Rather than require that the entire building be set back a certain distance from property lines, city planners allowed the clients to average the home’s setback distance. The curves also serve to create a visual compression, which has the effect of a volume being squeezed in the center and exploding to the view on the glazed façade.

Cite: "Oakland House / Kanner Architects" 21 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=35536>
  • Gnomic

    This project makes me sad for the missed opportunity – nice site, decent budget, client wants a great modern house – and for whatever reason, the architect can’t pull it together.

    • Archlad

      Gnomic, what do you mean by saying “and for whatever reason”. Any arguments?

      I think it’s great.

      • Ala

        I think what Gnomic meant are:

        1. Too many mullions kill the idea of expansive view which the architects had intended (if you look at the 11th photograph_view towards the city from the living room).

        2. Views from the bedrooms at “living level” are its own kitchen and living/dinning area.

        3. The unorganized look of the bedroom with the bath (13th photograph) contradicts the architect’s description of minimalist idea.

        4. I have no idea how the scratch-like finish on the exterior complements the overall idea of the house. Same is true for the grass pattern on the roof terrace level.

        In short, the design is not well thought out. It seems like unrelated bits of ideas are crammed into the project.

      • ygogolak

        1. Oakland, CA is an area of high earthquake concern. What would you propose for the glazing system, butt joints?

        2. Where are you getting your view from? 2′ above the floor? There is only low furniture in the way.

        3. Looks organized to me. There are no walls in the bathroom to interfere with views.

        4. It’s a finish, what is supposed to do exactly?

        In short you have no idea what you are talking about. One look at the bedroom shows the level of detailing thought-out in this house.

      • sullka

        I sorth of agree with some comments expressed here.

        I doubt the mullion issue is seismic zone related, there’s no need to use storefront aluminum framing, and even if you do, the mullions composition could use some designing.

        I also don’t find it minimalistic at all.

        HOwever, it’s a nice project, and I bet the clients are happy with it, and I love the exterior wall finish, so simple and cheap, and yet it does its job.

    • harry

      You can’t make everybody happy, but I think the design is well considered and I think the architect is very successful to accomplish the wishes of his clients.

    • alfred

      what would you have done?

  • no_ro_ma

    fery coot..

  • archiyed

    too much transparent

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/vlodco_zotov/sets/ vladimir zotov

    concrete texture on side wall is very interesting

  • nombre

    stucked in the 70s – this is not the architecture which reflects the zeitgeist.

  • Jeison

    Beautiful. Love the transparence!

  • I.P Freely

    I suppose it is a matter of aesthetics. I am not a student nor am I an architect. Therefore, aesthetically speaking I find the house to be ugly. That’s my only argument–aesthetics.

  • alejandro

    I find it a prime example of what architecture form the States looks and feels like.
    It’s in-between to put it in simple terms.
    You can´t say it’s really contemporary, or minimalistic, or transparent or sculptural or cold or to magazine oriented, etc. It´s just plain boring.

  • frank

    I think this is a nice project, it srikes a great balance between minimal and mannered. I especially like the angled fascias – a suble nod to Lloyd Wright’s mid-century houses.

    • jimmy

      whatever, amateur…

  • cad

    They curve wall looks like they’re getting ready for tiles. Tim Griffith. I don’t know about meticulous, should have used a finer trowel and shorter scratches for a metallic look. Tim Griffith

  • http://www.garalysoka.com oscar falcón lara

    Well the construction seems to be on par with the budget expressed here, it has all the perks of a cool light dwelling and if they built it then the client must have been satisfied with the result, otherwise why bother?, the architect did a great job in getting a design from thought to built so congrats on that. Besides that,I don’t agree with many comments above me and I think it is a good project, some seem to forget that if it is a home not built for them than all criticism will fall on deaf ears, surely there are debatable aspects to any project, but what is more important is the fact that the client ended up with a project built for his specific needs, the family that lives there must be thrilled, hoping they feel the same 10 years from now, maybe they like it even more who knows.

  • gigi

    it’s got some very nice lines overall– the uncluttered simplicity… the bowed walls are a pretty cool dual-duty idea. The texture of the exterior walls are unusual & definitely defines the structure, but it’s lacking *some*thing… glad the owners are happy tho…

  • http://www.mcconnellphoto.net Architectural photographer

    Good architectural works and nice photo shot, thanks for sharing.

  • Eric simiyu

    This architect think outside the ussual box and give us a unique oe. the flare in desin opens new opportunitie for advancement