On Grape / Sebastian Mariscal Studio

© Hisao Suzuki

Architect: Sebastian Mariscal Studio
Location: San Diego, California,
Designer & Builder:
Design Team: Sebastian Mariscal & Dominique Houriet
Structural Engineering: Omar Mobayed
Project Area: 472 sqm
Project year: 2006
Photographs: Hisao Suzuki

Small urban infill projects such as ‘On Grape’ add diversity to the city; providing contrast and scale to the multitude of whole city block buildings that are being constructed in San Diego during its current state of fast-paced redevelopment.

ground & second floor plan
© Hisao Suzuki

A project of this nature comes with a host of inconveniences that become a challenge in not only design, but also construction, including: small lot size, busy streets, zero setbacks from property lines, and a complete lack of space for construction storage and scaffolding. The initial approach for ‘On Grape’ was to subdivide the land into two parcels producing two single-family residences that maximize the enclosed, narrow, and linear space. The main goal was to maintain an interior-exterior connection in design while creating a spacious and quiet living environment in the city. To do so, the design focused on the planes of space throughout the project, and was achieved by constructing continuous spaces horizontally from one property line to the other and keeping the interior void open vertically to the sky.

© Hisao Suzuki

Within the urban context, the building exists as dual volumes separated by an interior courtyard of bamboo and light. The wood frame structure receives a floating exterior skin of engineered stone and COR-TEN steel that is separated by an internal air chamber, providing thermal and acoustic insulation. Spatially, the residences offer a quiet respite within the city core. Materially, the dark stone, the steel and the IPE wood accentuate the diverse urban fabric of San Diego.

Cite: "On Grape / Sebastian Mariscal Studio" 28 Jan 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=47588>
  • http://www.modern-zen.com/ Modern Zen Architecture

    From my home town! Nice. With all the development going on these days,learning how to deal with these architectural challenges now, should make it easier to deal with in the very near future… I’m talking about dealing with limited space, loud and busy streets, and trying to fit-in (or stand out) from the current landscape.

  • scottie

    good work Dominique!

  • http://katkestuste-linn.blogspot.com/ jk

    love the interior layout, how they’ve managed to squeeze everything into the limited, narrow space. (only the long ground floor corridor is kind of a turnoff…)

    btw, japanese photographers have a very cool distinctive style!

  • http://www.patrickhoesterey.com PatrickLBC

    What a beautiful urban oasis! I have had the pleasure of walking by this building, and it is stunning in person. The forms and materials encapsulate San Diego’s current architectural revitalization. I like the garage doors, with open-air slots that allow you to peek through. Thanks for providing interior photos and plans, as I have always been curious to explore this building further.


    I like the guardrail with the unequal spacing on the verticals… manages to get a bit of visual interest and a sense of rhythm from a building element typically designed by Building Code.

  • Andrew Carr

    It really doesn’t seem like the spaces will be adequately lighted with this floor plan.

    I see the architects intention of having each space open to the courtyard… But given the orientation of the building I suspect light will only enter in the afternoon.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this matter?

  • orlando quintero

    marcel breuer