Bernal Heights Remodel 2

Bernal Heights Remodel 2

Sven Lavine Architecture
Bernal Heights, United States

Private Houses

Mission Impossible: Bernal Heights Remodel 2

Sven Lavine Architecture as Architects

What seems like a pretty unassuming little bed/bath remodel located in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights was actually one of our tougher projects. The owners had a couple challenging goals:

The first one was to fit a legal bathroom into one side of their master bedroom, which is located in the vaulted roof of their Victorian without adding any dormers or expansions.

The second was to get more natural light to their living room. Doesn’t seem that tough, but the problem is that aside from the one existing window, there was no place to add any windows or skylights – there were rooms on 3 sides, a neighbor on the 4th side, and a bedroom above.

The bathroom wasn’t really that tough to fit in. There was already an un-permitted bath there. It was really just a matter of moving some walls and packing a bath into the tiny triangular section. The tough part was keeping the dramatic, symmetrical proportions of the vaulted ceiling which we had fully opened up. The encroaching bath would totally wreck the beautiful lines of that ceiling. The solution that our clients liked was to create a frameless glass clerestory (high window) between the bath and bedroom so that the lines of the ceiling could be seen swooping down as if it were totally open. And as an added bonus, space and light flow from one room to the other, making everything feel bigger and brighter.

Challenge number 2, the landlocked living room below. The clients really wanted natural light here – artificial light would not do. They wanted to see the light change throughout the day. After a lot of brainstorming and options, we settled on a monitor (looks like a skylight, but is actually a shaft going up into the ceiling with a horizontal window on the wall above – imagine a snorkel for light. The new window is actually on the side wall of the bedroom above, ans a shaft is carved out of the closet. This locates the window high enough to get it above the neighbor’s house. There were a few technicalities, but we think it turned out really well. It accomplishes the goal of increased light, and adds interest to the space.

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Project Credits
Jinlong Prefab School
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Jinlong Prefab School

Primary Schools
Beijing, China - Build completed in 2020
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