Walking along the charming row houses of San Francisco, one may think that Twin Peaks Residences is a newly renovated single-family home. Positioned behind the structurally robust steel framework and cement plaster are three separate units. A wood-slatted gate conceals the exterior stairway that leads to each unit. While configuration is unique, the one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes all carry the same quality, design, and finishes.
“We tied the three units together with travertine flooring and walnut veneer so there’s this thread of materiality weaving through the entire building even though each unit is very distinct,” says architect Michael Hennessey.
Alongside a dedicated team and client, Hennessey set out to transform the ordinary single-family home into a three-unit residential building. The site in the Twin Peaks neighborhood sits on the side of a hill. Its positioning allows for sweeping views of downtown San Francisco from each unit, which prompted much thought for Hennessey and the team.
“We did a lot of studies thinking about how someone would occupy the space because that view is ever present,” Hennessey explains. “In other words, how do you lay out the spaces so that the view is meaningful in each of the units?”
From the upper unit, the master suite is set above the living room and kitchen along with two additional bedrooms. The middle unit’s sunken living room highlights a central walnut bench/bookcase that provides structure and mediation between the kitchen and living area; it includes two bedrooms. The lower unit has double-height volume as the single bedroom overlooks the living space that opens to a small garden.
The street view’s first two levels provide privacy for tenants while the two upper levels have glazing as privacy becomes less of a concern. “The steel framework surrounds the windows and allows them to go past the floor plates and roof plates, so that the glass goes beyond floor to ceiling,” Hennessey says. “It’s elevated detailing that you would not particularly find in a multifamily project.”