Oakland House

by Kanner Architects
Oakland House Kanner Architects

Located in Oakland, California, on a down-sloping site high above the San Francisco Bay, this home was designed to capture the magnificent vistas spanning from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge. Floor-to-ceiling glass clears the way to unobstructed views. The predominantly south-southwest orientation required deep overhangs to cut down glare and soften the light quality in the home.
The clients, a couple with grown children, wanted to create a dream home for their life as empty nesters, but still desired accommodations for their kids and other frequent guests. Thus, the four-bedroom home was planned as two distinct volumes connected by a glass bridge.
The primary volume is all about the owners who sought luxury and transparency. The master suite is a spacious open area with a wall of glass connecting the residents with their setting and capturing the breathtaking bay. The tub and shower are open to the bedroom and separated from the outside only by glass. Also in this main structure are the open plan of living room and kitchen. The secondary volume, the street-facing building, comprises less critical functions: a glass carport, three guest rooms and a recreation room.
Spare and rigorously Modern in its aesthetic, the home has only a handful of materials and even fewer colors. Concrete floors, steel and glass window systems, and a mostly white composition of cabinetry and furnishings define the minimalist composition. Color is introduced subtly through blue plaster, landscaping, artwork and the dramatic views. The plaster, a meticulously trowelled herring bone scratch coat, has the illusory effect of a shimmering metal finish.
The building’s bowed walls – an hourglass in plan – are a response to the client’s desire for curvilinear forms as well as a strategy to satisfy municipal setback regulations. Rather than require that the entire building be set back a certain distance from property lines, city planners allowed the clients to average the home’s setback distance. The curves also serve to create a visual compression, which has the effect of a volume being squeezed in the center and exploding to the view on the glazed façade.

Photos by Tim Griffith

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