AIASF Citation Award 2016.

The A-to-Z House proposes an alternative to conventional approaches for expanding an outmoded San Francisco home. Perched on a hillside in Golden Gate Heights, a modest single-story, 1934 developer vernacular structure had limited space and failed to take advantage of expansive views of Sutro Tower, Golden Gate Park, Sausalito, and the Bay. But rather than replacing or merely attaching to the existing structure, the A-to-Z strategy seizes upon the existing forms – scaling, repeating, and manipulating found objects into a contextual collection of structures comprising a dynamic home immersed in its surroundings. A modest home expands through aggregation, multiplying scaled versions of the original A-type pulled along a twisted Z axis. The result is a double offset – a 2nd story structure to capture sweeping views and a voided landscape carved into the hillside. New forms combine with the old, erasing boundaries.

Often when thinking about preserving a thing—a structure, an object, a landscape, a city—one talks about preserving its “heart” or it's “core.” But in this case it was the opposite—we were trying to preserve the periphery, while completely reimagining the core.

The Middle Half dramatically reconfigures an existing 1962 Mill Valley home from a segmented series of small rooms with a congested core to a diffuse open plan residence with a central axis and diagonal intersection. Drawing a clear slightline from the front door to the suspended rear deck and valley views beyond, the space is punctuated by skylights that bring in soft light and passagways that lead to private living spaces. Like the interior spaces, the landscape design has a volumetric concept, defined by geometries shared with the architectural design. Outside, critical building elements—the steel and wood beams and columns—break free of the constraints of the interior walls to carve out and define volumes of exterior space, framing views as pictorial scenes.

Architecture: SAW
Landscape Architecture: SAW
Interior Design: Kina Ingersoll

Photos courtesy Mikiko Kukuyama