San Francisco, CA—For The Fourth Wall, Spiegel Aihara Workshop (SAW) renovates and expands a 1907 home in Bernal Heights, repositioning the house as a stage.
Project Name: The Fourth Wall
Studio Name: Spiegel Aihara Workshop
Rather than inward-facing and endlessly interior, rooms are reoriented towards a new rear facade, enabling scenes of domesticity to play out across large windows facing the backyard. Referencing theater, this design breaks through the “fourth wall” as a performance of daily routine.
The homeowners engaged SAW to reorganize, open, and expand the historic home for a growing family, as well as create a more intentional connection between the house and backyard. Because the front façade is historically protected, SAW focused the modernization and expansion on the back.
A previous addition to the back of the home—essentially, an unenclosed shed leaning against the first floor kitchen—was removed and replaced with a new, three-story addition that subtly extends the square footage (from 2,162 sf to 2,432 sf) and, more dramatically, connects to the backyard through the creation of windows, decks, and doors on every level. On the top floor, the master bedroom expands onto a roof deck over expansive views. On the first floor, the dining room peels open into a balcony. Finally, on the ground floor, the den folds directly into the yard, where a geometric arrangement of concrete pavers stretches from the door into the grass, blurring the distinction between architecture and landscape.
From the backyard, the rear reads as a stacked arrangement of variously scaled windows,