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Reimagining Space: The Dolores Heights Residence and its Relationship to the Natural Environment

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

The Dolores Heights Residence, located in San Francisco’s Dolores Heights neighborhood, is a stunning collaboration between Jones | Haydu and Kevin Sawyers of Sawyers Design. Kevin, who is also a part owner of the residence, along with his husband, wanted to transform their existing earthquake cottage into a more open and harmonious space. The original structure had been added onto piecemeal over the years, resulting in awkwardly connected rooms that needed to be reimagined.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

The goal of the remodel and expansion was to make the most of the house’s relationship to its unique site. With much of the existing footprint covering the lot, the architects and designers aimed to create a space that seamlessly blended with the surroundings.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

The circulation for the site and house is a straight axis that interacts with the building’s forms as they ascend to the main entrance. This axis is always anchored by Sutro Tower on the downhill end and a magnificent Monterey cypress tree on the uphill end, providing a sense of continuity and connection with the natural environment.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

The 3,180-square-foot house features forms that nest with each other, highlighted by a material palette of cedar, standing seam metal, and cementitious panels. These forms, combined with the interior palette, create rooms within a wide-open plan, allowing for a seamless flow throughout the space.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

The crescendo of forms occurs at the front of the house, paying homage to quintessential San Francisco vernacular architecture. An “inverted” Bay window box cantilevers eight feet from the facade, offering three different views of the “urban forest” that surrounds the home.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

Below the window box is an exterior fire pit, creating a cozy gathering space reminiscent of a forest floor. Inside, the box frames a view of the “trunk” level, providing a unique and captivating experience for the residents.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

Above, a roof deck extends the living room, allowing an experience of the “canopy” level. At this deck the backdrop is that almost child-like expression of home, a gable.

Dolores Heights Residence, San Francisco, USA / Jones | Haydu + Sawyers Design

Overall, the Dolores Heights Residence is a stunning example of thoughtful design and collaboration, seamlessly blending modern elements with the natural surroundings to create a harmonious and inviting space for its owners.

Image courtesy of Matthew Millman