Mork-Ulnes Architects has completed the Silver Lining House, a crisply gabled, black-cedar-clad home designed for an architectural photographer and interior designer.
The house is located on a sloping site in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, nestled among the Victorian and Edwardian homes that line the area’s hilly streets.
The project was designed by architectural photographer Bruce Damonte and interior designer Allison Damonte, who were long-time friends of architect Casper Mork-Ulnes, founder of Mork-Ulnes Architects.
The couple, who are collectors, wanted a home that would showcase their prized possessions and support their creative work.
“We knew from the beginning that this project would be an interesting collaboration, balancing our reductionist tendencies with the more passionate and maximalist impulses of our clients/friends, whose style we have always admired and wanted to celebrate,” said Casper Mork-Ulnes.
The architect and his team at Mork-Ulnes Architects — which has offices in San Francisco and Oslo — designed a house for the Damont family that “conceptually functions as a container for their furniture and art collections and a laboratory for their work.”
The house is rectangular in shape, rises three levels and has a pronounced gabled shape. The facades are clad in strips of black-stained cedar and perforated with holes of various sizes.
The architects took cues from the surrounding context when deciding on key design elements such as volume, massing and cladding – but they also deviated from the norm.
“While mimicking the forms of the roof, entry/slope portal and assembly of Victorian homes, the new house also breaks with tradition with a black-painted facade and ribbon windows that visually connect the interior of the house to the neighborhood,” the team said. .
“Tradition is reinterpreted here from a decidedly contemporary perspective, where formal research and construction techniques are integral to creating an original and innovative result that engages its surroundings while also stimulating further research,” the team added.
The house has a total area of 2,818 square feet (261 m2) and has a “mirrored floor plan”, where private quarters are on the lower floors and common spaces are placed high up.
The ground floor has a garage, primary bedroom suite, laundry room and sunken garden. The main entrance is located on the first floor, where the team has placed a guest suite, a home office, two bathrooms and intimate spaces for relaxation and entertaining.
The upper floor – envisioned as a penthouse space – includes a kitchen, dining area, living room and powder room. The terrace enjoys sweeping views of the city.
The floors are connected by a curved staircase surmounted by a skylight. Semi-polished chrome slats are reflected around the staircase, an effect intended to “mimic the experience of walking through a disco ball.”
Mirrored surfaces were found in other parts of the house, adding a sense of playfulness while also producing spatial and light-generating effects, the team said.
The home’s interior design, overseen by Alison Damonte, generally offers a mix of colors, textures and patterns that “reflect the owners’ collective creative spirit,” the team said.
Sustainability was kept in mind throughout the project, leading to the inclusion of elements such as high-performance windows, exterior solar shading and energy-efficient appliances.
Rooftop solar panels generate electricity that can be stored in the Powerwall battery system, and unused electricity is sent back to the power grid.
The completion of the home marks the end of a journey spanning more than a decade.
In 2010, the Damont family purchased a modest residence in Bernal Heights dating back to the early 1900s.
Several years later, they commissioned Mork-Ulnes to renovate the house, and when the plans were completed in 2017, the house caught fire and was partially destroyed.
The team salvaged what they could and reworked the design.
“Although the accident forced a re-evaluation of the scope and scale of the redesign, the couple’s goal remained the same – to create a home that would serve as a capsule for art and inspiration,” the team said.
Other projects by Mork-Ulnes include an eight-sided house in Oregon built using cross-section timbers and a residence in California covered with Corten steel to protect the building from wildfires.
Photography by Bruce Damonte.
structural engineer: Mork Olnes Architects
Project design team: Kasper Mork-Ulnes, Lexi Mork-Ulnes, Faye Van Fan, Gregory Ladigin
Interior Designer: Allison Damonte
Construction Director: Rafi Nazarian
Landscape architect: Earthquake
Structural Engineer: Santos and Uritia
Lighting design: Pritchard Beck
General contractor: Rico General Construction Company
Cupboards maker: Hopefully