envelope A+D

envelope A+D

Berkeley, CA


Washington Street Residence

This home for an art collecting family was shaped by two primary design parameters: make no visible alterations to the house’s traditional front facade while transforming the interior into a modern open living space that integrates the client’s extensive collection of contemporary art. Within this home, a critical density of contemporary art makes one question the normal "stuff" of houses - switches, walls, doors, sinks. The design seeks to create a heightened level of engagement by blurring the line between normal living and art experience.

The main living floor retains all of the original uses, but opens up the physical relationships between the rooms. Living, dining and entry at the front interlink with family, kitchen and informal dining at the back. The front suite of rooms are rendered more purely, with the normal house tectonics - windows, doors, light switches, outlets - concealed or obscured. The rear suite is completely open to one another while retaining some more recognizable elements of home.

The east edge of the main level is a series of art chambers running from front to back: stair hall, powder room and library. The existing curvilinear stair hall was reinterpreted from a figural void to a spiral object by opening up the cubic volume of the stair hall and enhancing the sinuous surface of the guardrail wall. The powder room is open to the hallway, providing view to a small exterior light court with a wall-mounted Robert Gober drain. The library is a rendered as a large vitrine, itself a microcosm of the vitrine of the house. Upstairs the master bath and changing area merge into a single room in which differing material expressions define the room’s dry and wet zones or functions.

The living spaces of the house are predominately white to support of the display of art, while storage spaces are rendered in varied and intense hues that express storage as a series of intensive events scattered throughout the house. The design of the house involved a simultaneous discussion of the curation of the house with the client, including how, where, and what pieces of art would be displayed. 

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Status: Built
Location: San Francisco, CA, US
Additional Credits: Robert Gober (drain), Lawrence Weiner (text), Felix Schramm (deconstructed wall), Mungo Thompson (celestial ceiling photomural) and Roy McMakin (trapped cabinet) on the coordination of artworks that were embedded within the architecture.