envelope A+D

envelope A+D

Berkeley, CA


Octavia Blvd M+N

In the context of San Francisco’s escalating housing costs, new modes of housing promise to shift the economics of life in the city. Set along Octavia Boulevard, M+N are among the most challenging of the 22 development parcels created when the Central Freeway was removed. The two 120-foot-wide parcels are just 18 feet deep, defying typical housing configurations. Instead, the design of the 24-unit, mixed-use development leverages the site’s shallow footprint to encourage a lifestyle engaged with the community.

Density and Connectedness. M+N’s concept recognizes how life in culturally rich neighborhoods naturally extends beyond the home. The eight two-bedroom units and 16 efficiencies (12.5% below market rate) are compact and comfortable. Windows run the full length of each unit, creating a sense of spatial expansiveness within as well as connection with the boulevard.

Vertical-lift operable exterior screens provide privacy and shading; their movements generate a subtle dynamism through the day. Glazed stairwells allow west light to filter through the slender building to the rear yards beyond. Curated retail will complement the neighborhood, bringing added activity and needed services to Octavia Boulevard.

A Vision Realized. Lots M+N began in 2005 as the first-prize winner of the San Francisco Prize: Octavia Boulevard Housing Design Competition. Prompted by neighborhood advocates, the international juried competition sought fresh approaches to urban housing in anticipation of new development following the Central Freeway’s removal. In 2007, the city awarded development rights for the lots to envelopeA+D, along with partners Placeworks Development and Chabot Partners.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: San Francisco, CA, US
Additional Credits: Placeworks Development, Chabot Partners