Richard Johnson Design

mission residence


Conceived as an urban cabin, this compact single-story, single-family home responds to a uniquely urban set of site conditions. In particular, the original 1907 structure represents a historical rarity in that it was constructed out of material salvaged from the 1906 Earthquake. Serving as an intermediate dwelling, post earthquake, its small footprint and tightly arranged spaces gave the designers an opportunity to respond to the existing structure by rethinking the layout and flow of the spaces, while working within the existing building envelope and it?s inherited tight site parameters and space constraints.

With these space constraints in mind, the design evolved by thinking of three overlapping volumes of space. The central, existing volume, and the two new additions provide a clear relationship between the shared and private parts of the program. The new residence includes: two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, a dining area, an outdoor patio, garden, and an attached garage. Some of the underlying rules the designers set for themselves in creating the plan included: indoor-outdoor connectivity, extensive glazing to maximize day lighting, and taking advantage of ceiling heights to establish volume through verticality. In doing this, the program?s focus flipped from one that was very inwards to one that was very outwards. In all, this major renovation involved adding 400 square feet and replacing all structural, electrical and mechanical systems.

This project also embraces innovations that are happening in the neighborhood and citywide. Its location promotes walking, biking, and the design provides examples of how development can incorporate habitat and ecologically sensitive landscaping. It also utilizes sustainable building methodologies in a variety of scales - from LED fixtures and PV system, to passive day lighting and natural ventilation.

Expressing the beauty of the project?s materials is evident in the attention given to the details. Similarly to the conditions where the programmatic volumes overlap, the material intersections were also carefully considered. Simple materials and careful detailing reveal the authenticity of the material adjacencies. These minimalist connections required a significant amount of forethought and, of course, precision during construction.

In all, the project?s success can be measured best by the happiness of its inhabitants. ?Light-filled, warm, and comfortable? are adjectives repeatedly used to describe how one feels about the space. We are pleased that the project provides a peaceful oasis that is both connected to the city and protected from it.



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San Francisco, CA