Location: San Francisco, California, US
Architects: Jensen Architects
Project Leads: Mark Jensen, Frank Merritt, Kimberly Cinco, Audrey Harris
Project Team: Ryan Golenberg, Keri Goodlad, Ricardo Gonzalez, Hanya Chen
Landscape: Terra Ferma Landscapes
Lighting: Johanna Grawunder
Photography: © Joe Fletcher
A tight lot in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood seems an unlikely setting for a home replete with gardens. Rather than a conventional yard, Jensen Architects sculpted a weave of shifting volumes and open spaces. At every turn, living spaces blend with dramatic views and intimate courtyards and terraces. Family life flows effortlessly inside and outside throughout the day, “like walking in the clouds,” they say.
Movement through the house reveals a thoughtful narrative of the space, materials, and people that weave through it. Simply walking through the house creates a new relationship to the city topography and bay views beyond. The stairs are treated as sculptural elements emphasizing the fluidity between the levels and the views revealed at each landing. A glass elevator allows you to experience this change as you ascend vertically through the house. The steel-frame of the elevator is painted International Orange, the same color specification as the Golden Gate Bridge. This echo of the iconic structure seen in the distance serves to deepen the house’s ties to its spectacular location.
In many ways the design involved solving a three-dimensional puzzle, a push and pull between height limits, open space requirements, neighbor considerations, and the family’s desire for openness and views. Jensen threaded open spaces throughout the house and shifted living spaces to maintain light and views for neighbors. Carefully placed cut-outs over the pool and courtyard open up vertical views through the house. All outdoor levels are connected as well, with exterior staircases from the rooftop garden to the street.
Jensen balanced the vocabulary of transparency and interconnectedness with the realistic considerations of privacy and solar heat gain. The shifting volumes create south facing overhangs for shading, and each glass wall has curtains or pocketing shades. Floor-to-ceiling aluminum louvers obscure side views to and from neighboring homes, while allowing for light and direct views. Excavation into the hillside created private living areas on the lowest level and the entry hallway spaces can be partitioned at will with sliding solid pocket doors.
All images courtesy of Jensen Architects | © Joe Fletcher
As the founder of Jensen Architects, Mark Jensen cultivated his view of the art and science of architecture into an award-winning design practice based in San Francisco. These values came naturally to Mark, who grew up among artisans and designers, and deepened through his academic and early experience in the United States and Italy. After earning a Bachelor of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, a program recognized for its emphasis on building science, he worked with renowned architects Superstudio, Jim Jennings and Mark Mack, as well as noted fashion designer Enrico Coveri. An active member of the San Francisco Bay Area arts and design community, Mark is a former chair of the California College of the Arts (CCA) Interior Architecture Department and the Headlands Center for the Arts Board of Trustees. He is a licensed architect in California. Mark was elevated to The College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 2018.
833 Market Street