Architect: Regan Bice, AIA | Regan Bice Architects
Photographer: Regan Bice Architects
After purchasing a remarkable building site that sits on the crest of the Berkeley Hills, the owners contacted architect Regan Bice, AIA of Regan Bice Architects. They knew they wanted a modern, refined design that would also be environmentally sensitive to the site, which is in a grove of redwood trees overlooking Tilden Park and the San Francisco Bay. The result feels like an elegant, fortified tree house in the forest. It meets the ground as a simple rectangle sheathed in Richlite, an environmentally-sourced, durable, recycled paper-based fiber composite. A prismatic glass entrance is carved into the base of the house, dividing the garage and home office from two guest suites and revealing a wood paneled core that houses the stairway and utilities. Gathering the functional services at the center of the house allowed the exterior skin of the top floor to become light and reflective. It is wrapped with a continuous band of glass, some of which is opaque to support art displays inside and most of which are open to the surrounding trees and the views between them to the Bay, making the top floor feel like a viewing gallery. The northern portion of the property is devoted entirely to native landscaping, irrigated by a combination of harvested rainwater and recycled greywater. With this house, the architect resolved a complex puzzle of environmental sensitivity, sustainable construction and a high level of architectural and structural elegance into a geometric composition that appears deceptively simple and delights its owners daily.