The project, entitled the H House, is an attractive modern architectural residence situated in Noe Valley, a neighborhood located within the central portion of San Francisco, California. To its architect/developer Joel Karr of Group 41, the project was the first ground-up development property and became a welcomed opportunity to express his own distinctive ideas of modernist design.
Photographs by Ken Gutmaker unles otherwise mentioned
Set in the hills above Noe Valley, the structure takes advantage of sweeping views of the Oakland Hills and the city skyline below. Surrounded by the typical mix of Edwardian, Victorian Italianate, and 1940 renovations, the H House takes a relatively strong modernist stance while still respecting the scale and proportionality of its neighbors.
From the street, the house appears purposefully modest – a simple boxy two story structure. However, the residence cascades down the hill, making the most of a narrow and down sloping site.
Group 41 commissioned a local artist to create a one-of-a-kind steel entry gate. The striated swathes of mild steel weigh in at over 600 lbs but nevertheless glide effortlessly open, welcoming visitors into an atrium space, lined with polished black basalt.
Black stacked slate wall adds drama and Anchors Structure to the Hill. A monolithic wall wrapped in panels of black, stacked slate pierces down through two stories, anchoring the structure to the steep hill.
The house spreads out over four-level, within the 4,500 square foot property, to include 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths. A flexible floor plan allows the lower unit to serve as the perfect entertainment space or a separate unit. Finally, outdoor decks, terraces and gardens complement the indoor spaces, making the most of expansive views.
Curvilinear ceiling adds visual interest. “The only curvilinear elements in the entire home are the curved shapes of the ceiling plane and the lighting rail,” explains Joel Karr. “They’re meant to soften the planar feel of the ceiling as you enter the house because the living room steps down and ‘away’ from your point of view and the ceiling becomes an incredibly powerful visual element in the main living space.”
With the Ingo Maurer “Oh Mei Ma” fixture in the foreground of a double high atrium entry, the impact of the subtle curvatures makes a compelling first impression.
The all-white Master Bath is intended as a gleaming blank canvas. The purpose behind the design of this master bath was to obtain an absolutely colorless room that was neither “feminine” nor “masculine” but would adapt to the unique character of the owners.
This white on white theme is achieved through different finishes such as Thassos marble, Inalco white panel tiles, glossy white lacquered vanity elements and Spanish white “bubbles” tile, all complemented by a floating “island” tub on a mat of white glass pebbles and a wall-hung Philippe Starck toilet.
Sustainable design features
Increased Fly-Ash content concrete mix for all concrete on the project. Up to 20% fly ash in flatwork.
Construction Waste recycling program in place during both demolition of the existing dilapidated shack, and throughout the construction cycle. “Balanced” sitework involved zero off-haul or on-haul of soil.
97% efficient system, including high efficiency furnaces and distributed Variable Air
Volume boxes. Radiant floor heating in main family area and bathrooms. Reversible hot/cool air fan system in main family area.
All domestic hot water provided through distributed on-demand hot water system.
Fully solar-ready conduits and roof membranes for easy installation of solar panels.
Black Aniline Dyed ECHO TIMBER made from pressed scraps from pulp mills. 100% recycled industrial waste.
Macassar ebony ENGINEERED ECO-WOOD. For all doors, special door casings on main floor, main kitchen cabinets, and miscellaneous other veneer finishes. Made from pressed recycled sawdust runoff from paper mills.
Extensive use of LED and high-efficacy lighting throughout.
Toilets are all low-flow, and dual flush for water conservation.