Situated 300ft above sea level at the top of Bernal Heights in San Francisco, the Nino Residence commands panoramic views north across the Bay and east toward the Berkeley/Oakland hills. The existing property is an historic cottage datedto 1890, centered in a 70ft deep lot with limited front and rear yards. The new program required a new master bedroom suite, study/guest room, entertainment space, and exterior deck with direct garden access. These requirements necessitated altering both front and rear facades. These facades are thus conceived as partial screens to complement the historic
fabric, permitting old and new to be seen jointly.
The program’s aim was to be energy efficient and environmentally sensitive beginning with the notion of renovation and preservation, capitalizing and embellishing upon inherent qualities existing within the residence. As the residence is situated within a dense neighborhood fabric, the owner has the availability to walk or to take public transportation to access all basic services. The hilltop location also allows for unobstructed views and a high sense of privacy as no neighbor immediately occupies the same plane of vision. By embellishing upon such features with a modern, clean, and simple design, the residence provides the best of both worlds: an active, urban lifestyle that is also serene and close to nature.
Little financial and spatial resources were dedicated to the accommodation of a car, with an allowance for a driveway only for means of basic convenience and as required per code to alleviate burden on public streets. Further, by retaining the historic fabric of the home the architect saved material, limiting waste, and preserving a sense of San Francisco’s cultural heritage.
The small spaces within were conceived of as multi-functionale, and can be either partitioned for privacy or opened to create grander arrangements. The living room is not only a social space, but also part entry and part music studio. Similarly, the adjoined dining, kitchen and guest room overlap and weave together for expanded views and cross ventilation. The one-story front addition is both an enclosed habitable interior space and an open, exterior roof deck. The home is a layered procession of spaces – views, light, and ventilation extend continuously from front to rear.
Design Team: Jace Levinson, AIA, Kim Ngo, Gordon Popadiuk
Structural Engineer: Bernard Huang
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Zigas Engineers
General Contractor: Tapia Construction & Restoration
Photographers: Muffy Kibbey, Mark Luthringer