Architect / Firm: SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, Inc.
Project Location: 4 Bassett Lane, Atherton, CA
Atherton, CA has become synonymous with excess. As one of the most extravagant zip codes in all of Silicon Valley - and boasting some of the most relaxed zoning ordinances - it’s common to continually add more. And yet, there was an Atherton before these booms, still spacious, but less exuberant - with lower slung houses patterned around the landscape. We encountered a house at the end of a quite cul-de-sac, settled amongst the oaks, and organized around a courtyard - all sensible arrangements. Yet there was something sort of odd happening here, a sort of top heaviness, that was evidenced by a facade that was seemingly all roof. On the interior, it turns out this was almost all attic - largely inaccessible, and highly inefficient. So we began to carve away - subtracting from the solid mass wherever possible and discovering opportunities to re-inhabit the voids. Double negatives become connections - binding unusual program arrangements - the skylight is a window in the closet, for instance, which becomes a light monitor to the entry, blurring the lines between the most public and private spaces in the house. With this strategy, it turns out this house already had enough – it just required figuring out what to subtract.
General Contractor: Alliance Construction
Interior Designer: Kristina Braun
Photographer: Mikiko Kikuyama