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Architect Jonathan Feldman discusses the ways light floods down through all floors of this four-story row house, thanks to new skylights, a glass bridge, open staircase and perforated metal screen.
San Francisco is renowned for its tall, slender houses that sit cheek by jowl on some of the city’s most prestigious real estate. But at just 21ft wide, this house was narrower than most.
Architect Jonathan Feldman of Feldman Architecture says despite its narrow width and dilapidated state, the property had the potential to be a spectacular home for the new owners.
“The four-story house was in a great location and there were views in all directions from the top level,” says Feldman. “But in its original state, the house was unattractive and dark, with narrow stairs leading to the living area at the top. This floor was compartmentalized with several small rooms, so there was no view from front to back. And although the living area had high ceilings, it was not well suited to modern living. A small, galley-style kitchen didn’t help.”
Changes were made at every level, both inside and out. The unarticulated stucco facade was reclad in gray limestone, and deep metal frames introduced around the windows and garage. A bay window that cantilevered out over the street was replaced with a balcony.
Feldman’s team also made significant changes to the stairs. The narrow stairway was replaced with wider stairs in wood, steel and glass, with open treads to let the light flow through. Skylights on the top level, and a glass floor below, allow natural light to filter down through the stairwell, which in turn helps to draw people up to the living area at the top.
For further definition, the architects wrapped the stairwell with a perforated metal screen that runs along the ceiling and folds down the stairs, connecting all four levels.