Latitude/Longitude: 37.7822, -122.393
This project proposes a new domestic typology: a gallery house. It combines a semi-public art gallery and a residence for two prominent collectors who have redefined what it means to live with and look after art. The clients, a virologist and a mathematician, exclusively collect work by female contemporary artists and feel compelled to share and promote their collection, not only with friends but also with the larger art world. They requested a home within which both their extensive collection and visitors could circulate from a semi-public gallery through to the domestic space, each zone offering a different environment for experiencing the work. The street-level gallery hosts exhibitions curated from their private collection as well as the collections of friends. A site for artist and curator talks, the gallery increases public engagement in the arts within the art world as well as at the scale of their own neighborhood. Extending and redefining the exhibition space as it continues up the stairs to the next two floors and the penthouse sculpture garden, the domestic zone includes even the most private spaces in the exhibition circuit by virtue of its open plan.
The site is an infill lot bordering South Park, one of the few figural public spaces in San Francisco. This distinctive urban condition informed the search for an abstract architectural language that explores the interlocking clarity of figure-ground relationships and the liminality of their edge conditions. The design process began by seeing the base condition of the lot as solid poche, already full. The solid mass of the buildable envelope was then incised and subdivided into interlocking elements. The space of the lot was comprehensively partitioned and the interlocking figures identified as solid or void, and assigned various programs. In this manner, the original fullness of the space was articulated and accounted-for, resulting in a perceptible heaviness in the built project.
The solids and voids slide past each other, indifferent to the abstract 4 x 5 x 4 Cartesian framework that informs the structural system. Within the house, the matrix reinforces the divisions of space implicit in the allocation of solids and voids. But at the facade that meets South Park, the orthogonal framework dissolves and reassembles to emulate the organic morphology of the tree-filled park. The tessellations flex to create a volumetric inhabitable space for balconies on the upper two floors. This swollen threshold resulted from an exhaustive taxonomy of parametric interpretations of the Planning Code constraints for allowable projections that trigger the typical San Francisco bay window. The soft geometries of the facade screen reappear in the ‘mathematical-organic’ pavers and succulents at the rooftop sculpture garden.
Sustainability / daylighting
The envelope of the house responds to the temperate but varied climate and weather of San Francisco with a nuanced ability to shelter and protect from the cold fog, then open for full connection to sun and breeze. Radiant floors warm the interior while large operable walls connect the large rooms to the park and trees on the southeast and the city as view to the northwest. In contrast to the horizontal expansion offered by the operable walls on both residential floors front and back, a green roof with drought-resistant plants is pierced with skylights to bring surprising and intense daylight to the deeper interior rooms. Over the 55′ high vertical space of the stairs, a sawtooth roof washes the space and art with even north light. In the gallery, the south storefront diffusing glass is coupled with a northern skylight over the back display wall, providing daylight for the art throughout the cycles of the day and the year. The house and gallery track the climatic and sky cycles, from east to west and blue sky to fog, locating the occupants in a building that engages in the city with little reliance on bought fuels and off-site energy.
⇒ Architecture Guide to SAN FRANCISCO-CALIFORNIA