This new residential design in the San Francisco suburb of Larkspur, by Jensen Architects, was created with a fundamental relationship in mind, between the familiy of three and their wooded community. The aim was to strike the right balance with a contemporary design that eased into its lush green surroundings. Photography: Mariko Reed
Aiming to preserve the ridge and minimise the structure's presence, architect Mark Jensen and his team worked on a design that is partially buried in the hills of Marin County
A light, transparent pavilion atop the three-storey house holds the kitchen, dining and living areas, which open onto an outdoor terrace and pool
The site offers spectacular views of Mount Tamalpais, so placing the more social functions at the top of the house was a strategic move
The upper pavilion is enclosed by high-performance sliding-glass panels. When open, they allow the top floor to fully unite with the outdoors while also allowing for natural ventilation.
Mirror panels further veil the building. 'The key was not to build on top of the hill but rather to build into it,' says Jensen. 'The idea was to make the building disappear into the landscape'
Inside, a steel stair case connects the upper pavilion with the lower living spaces, while the house also features a radiant, energy-saving concrete floor
A white 'grounded plinth' housing the two floors below the pavilion includes the garage, bedrooms and bathrooms
Throughout the rest of the house, transparent and perforated screens and window strips allow plenty of natural light to flood the home
The master bedroom spills out onto an open concrete terrace, bringing the client closer to nature
The abundance of coast live oak trees that dominate the natural hillside site were a key consideration in the home’s design. By wrapping core components of the home with natural materials, the living spaces were infused with their richness and warmth
An open wooden cabana houses a jacuzzi and offers respite from the sun
The house's clever design incorporates key sustainability features, too. An irrigation system that runs along the driveway feeds the newly landscaped vegetation, which will eventually grow over the brick walls, hiding them completely
The client, a graphic designer, was a true collaborator in the process, says Jensen. 'It was great fun to compare my architectural, spatial perspective with his graphic, pure-composition perspective,' he says. 'I think the house marries these approaches'