Once you've discovered the ideal site, finding the perfect house design can be a time-consuming and even frustrating process. But it all becomes worthwhile when the final plans take shape.
Having obtained a lot with a commanding bay view, architect Charles Debbas set out to create a dwelling for his family that made the most of its location. Debbas says he took his inspiration from the site, incorporating the hillside, the city and the constantly changing light into the design.
"The interplay of light is a dynamic element of the design. The house is two cubes, punctuated by daylight," Debbas says.
"The way the house sits on its lot, it all comes together. The biggest asset is the dramatic view over the bay."
While the garage sits up high, contained in a concrete fiberboard cube, the main part of the house is below street level. Two sets of steps connect the upper and lower cubes. On one side of the garage, interior steps lead into the kitchen, while on the other side exterior concrete steps lead to an entry courtyard, complete with a fireplace.
Next to the front door, a large glazed pivot door opens onto the courtyard, linking this area to the house's interior and the view beyond. The space allows friends and family to enjoy the fire while sheltered from the occasionally sharp winds that blow in from the bay, Debbas says.
Materials that were both sustainable and low maintenance were specified for the exterior of the house. The cladding of the three-story lower cube looks like stained wood, but is actually resin fiberboard. This means an occasional power wash is all that is needed to keep it looking good. Ceramic slats are used on most of the decks, to reduce the amount of wood in the structure. Anodized aluminum trim matches the sliding doors on the western facade, which open to look out over the water.
Inside the front door, a short hallway leads into the top-floor open-plan living area. To the right is a small study, while straight ahead is a seating area, next to the dining space, with the kitchen tucked in behind. The bedrooms are on the middle level while a family room and guest bedroom occupy the lowest level, which has access to a garden.