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Hillside Residence

Alterstudio Architecture, LLp.

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  • Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, AIA; Tim Whitehill

Project Status



2,170 sq. feet


Design Awards

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Project Description

The Hillside Residence is a substantial renovation and expansion of a 1927 bungalow in Travis Heights. The existing 1,000 SF building was rescued from dilapidation, delineated abstractly in stark white, and connected via a glass entry bridge to a new 1,100 SF sculptural volume clad in black-stained cypress. Akin to Marcel Breuer's 1943 proposition for a Bi-Nuclear House, the home is split into two zones - one for living and socializing, and the other for concentration, work and sleeping - and by virtue of entering in the middle, both sides appear to be in dialogue with one another. Inside, the two zones are defined by distinctly different material and spatial characteristics, the combination being both gracious and provocative. The renovation respects the existing building's disposition and maintains its collection of discrete rooms, while radically altering their character. A series of private rooms now take the place of what was public, and the front porch is removed, leaving the existing bungalow’s massing in tact but without any obvious way to enter from the street. This private nucleus is accessed through a new corridor that leads to an unexpectedly tall central space, off of which are arrayed the private rooms of the house. Unlike the traditional organization of the home, the expansion opens the public spaces to the backyard and, by contrast, is characterized by openness, dynamic spatial continuity, and abstraction. An ultimately modern sensibility in the addition provides a counterpoint to the sense of contained space in the original house. As one passes between the old and new construction, the confluence of two distinct architectural characters gives rise to questions about the various ways in which architecture both challenges and reinforces the culture of which it is a part. The ensemble is a counter-proposal to the immodesties of urban transformation - where a new character replaces a `historically underutilized' building stock. Here, the existing disposition of the street is maintained, albeit with a new temperament.
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