When Fougeron Architecture was approached to convert a San Francisco concrete warehouse into a home, the client wanted a space that was free of clutter and the visual pollution of everyday banality. But the final design, charmingly named the Tehama Grasshopper residence, is far form sober and grim. From carefully selected materials like ipe wood and Cor-Ten steel green systems like radiant heating and fluorescent lighting, this modern loft is both thoughtful and homey.
Homeowner Jason Shelton may have been drawn to the language of concrete slabs and an aesthetic of austerity, but key design elements create a light and fluid space. All new elements in the home (glass, marble, and steel) float within the existing concrete walls. With an open floor plan, the kitchen sits on a slightly raised platform as a central piece, or a white island, as Shelton described it. With the fridge and oven hidden from view, for the most part Shelton got his wish to be free of walls, rooms, and “stuff.” But we were charmed to find that like the rest of us, when Shelton needed a pen, he went straight for the “junk drawer” — a crucial component in a flawless home.
The Tehama Grasshopper residence also features a radiant concrete floor for lower and more efficient energy use. The numerous windows and sliding doors, combined with the open stairwell, allow for an easy flow of heat and cooling when desired. The creation of a courtyard and several skylights minimize the need to use the dimmable T-5 florescent tubes installed for artificial lighting.
The penthouse addition, which gives the house its grasshopper name, uses solar orientation to determine the position of its solid walls and windows for a smart form of climate control. Cor-ten steel cladding and an ipê-wood deck were also chosen for durability and longevity.
The minimalist interior, however, doesn’t translate into minimal function. The adaptive transformation of this underutilized warehouse into a mixed-use building, with commercial and residential components, enhances the neighborhood and should breathe a little energy into the community itself.
All images courtesy of Richard Barnes