C A R T E S I A N X Y Z house
New Construction, private residence
8,000 sf, Oakland, CA
Our client lost his home in the Oakland Hills Fire of 1991 where entire neighborhoods, including his, were burnt to the ground. As a collector of mid-century modern furniture and art he seized the opportunity to build a new, larger house, custom fit to his passions.
Our approach to the challenge was to abstract the program into its constituent parts that we then re-assembled into a type of Cartesian outcropping of right angled planes and linear details. Our design for the steep south-facing slope collected double height main living spaces and lower level bedrooms and art studio into a single, vertical glass volume, flanked by two deep masonry service walls, a stair tower, and shaded by a flat, cantilevered roof and deck overhangs.
An interior aluminum clad pod hosts all the water related rooms (kitchen, bathrooms, laundry) while exterior seismic bracing angles across the main window facade to support the decks and roof above. Two curvilinear outdoor decks cantilever towards the views as counterpoint to the XYZ grid that determined the rest of the house design. Partial concrete interior floors serve as an interior extension of the main deck into the living room to provide a fireplace hearth and thermal mass for passive solar heating. Through ventilation and shading provide for passive cooling. A two-story library of the client’s art book collection is accessed from the entry balcony and main living area, finished with maple flooring. The thermal vent stairwell connecting all levels holds an airy stairway made of floating, solid maple treads supported by a steel beam structure and SS cable railings. The precise geometric relationship of the parts creates an ordered whole that serves as a gallery for both the client’s collection and the expansive views of Oakland and the Bay.