Perched high above the city, John Maniscalco’s Tank Hill Residence celebrates the dual experience of engaging with, as well as retreating from, urban life.
In a quiet residential enclave, steps away from the small but spectacularly scenic Tank Hill Park, an existing midcentury home on a challenging site has been completely reimagined to take advantage of both panoramic city views and a private wooded landscape. The home’s residents, a young well-traveled family, wanted to create a place of refuge where they could be both engaged and removed from their beautiful surroundings.
From the start, the steep, sloped lot proved to be both a challenge and opportunity. "On a hillside site, we often try to use the differing topography to provide a variety of spatial experiences that reveal themselves as one moves through the home," explains John Maniscalco, founding principal of John Maniscalco Architecture.
For Maniscalco, the first order of business was carving back the hillside to create new space and volume that would bring light deep into the home. "Given the space and orientation, the previous home was dark and starved of natural light," Maniscalco explains.
Digging out a chunk of the hillside in the rear allowed the jmA team to introduce a rear yard that didn’t exist before, as well as create a void in space that would let light in. Beyond carving away the hillside, the jmA team was also able to capture additional space beneath the existing home.
"We used the steepness of the site to do something a bit unusual: we carved out an additional floor of occupied space below the living levels, but still within the envelope of the previous home," says Maniscalco. "In San Francisco, finding new space in that manner is a bit of a magic trick."
The dramatic gathering space enjoys seamless connection to the hillside backyard on one end, and unobstructed city views on the opposite end. Traveling vertically through the home, "the experience shifts to expansive city views and views to the Marin Headlands and beyond, creating a sense of your place in the larger environment," reflects Maniscalco.
Anchored in nature, the residence is entirely site and client specific. "The house would not make sense anywhere else, even in other locations on its block," says Maniscalco. "It’s a connection to the site and to the city that gives the house a sense of grounding and serenity."