Project: House of Light
Architects: Rangr Studio
Location: Berkeley, California, United States
Area: 2,850 sf
Photographs by: Matthew Millman, Joe Fletcher
House of Light by Rangr Studio
Rangr Studio has designed the House of Light in the Berkeley Hills. The building is located on a steep incline which poses a bit of a challenge design-wise but it rewards the effort with stunning views of the San Francisco Bay.
Located in the Berkeley Hills, on a steep incline facing panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, the design of this three-level house is guided by seismic constraints, topography, micro-climate, sun path, and the property’s protected oak trees. To address the risks of earthquakes and landslides, the house is built on grade beams resting on concrete piles embedded in bedrock, avoiding the complexity and expense of excavation and retaining walls. The design includes the first use of residential seismic damper frames which slow the response of the structure in a seismic event and allow it to withstand the maximum predicted earthquake with minimal damage.
Throughout the house, small cantilevers extend space beyond the major structural elements that are directly in-line with the foundations. On the upper level, the most dramatic of the cantilevers extends beyond the western façade, projecting visitors out into the view. Given a year-round temperate yet chilly climate, the home’s living area is glazed to the south and west, creating a space that maximizes solar heat gain.
Large sliding glass doors and high clerestory windows allow cooling breezes to regulate temperature, so the living area feels very much like an exterior covered porch. The middle level remains cooler, and by opening a large glazed door on the lower level, the chimney effect brings more cool air to the upper level.
The house requires very little heating and no air-conditioning. Solar panels on the roof create more than enough electricity for the house and an electric car. By weaving the design through the site’s constraints and riches, the design creates a warm home lit by golden light, profoundly connected to its landscape with a net-positive energy footprint.