Modernism in play : atelier V completes Bishop 1 + 1 Residences

Westwood, California

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Back in January(2013), we published an article under the heading: “Dialogue of two homes”. That was when the design process for the two speculative residences on Bishop lane in Menlo Park, California had been completed.  Well, 10 months later, they are finished and sold at record prices.  “We always thought Design sells, we also knew that Modern when done with care has its followers, but never in our wildest dreams did we think that these homes would sell in under 3 weeks, this confirmed our view that Modern is in play” Says: Mark Vaghei, AIA, atelier V’s Design Principal.  Now, its not a hidden fact that the housing market has been sizzling, but there had to be other factors in play besides a hot market to sell these homes.  “Setting ourselves apart with a modern language while respecting the context made all the difference in the world!;  in the first open house, we had people falling in love on the first sight, there was nothing more satisfying than that!”  Says Mark Vaghei, AIA.

Bishop 1 + 1 residences are two relatively small homes on an approximately 10,000 sf lot.  “What made the setting especially interesting for us was the existence of the San Francisquito Creek on the immediate northern boundary of the site.”says Mark Vaghei, AIA.    The site had two existing 1950′s bungalows that had to be demolished to pave the way for the new structures.  The client, initially wanted to do one bigger house for his family, However, due to the rural/ small scale nature of the neighborhood and local opposition, he was convinced to modify his plans and apply for a subdivision to build two smaller homes.  The subdivision map process became a long legal battle as well, which was finally approved last year.  As a result of the conditions put on the subdivision approval, strict area, height and daylight plane requirements were placed on the property limiting the envelope of the homes .  “We took the constraints put on us by the County Planners as an opportunity;  rather than fighting these restrictions, we used them to derive at the formal massing of the two structures.  This resulted in an interesting Parti which made each house unique in its own way and responsive to its immediate surrounding while in dialogue with the other!”  Says Mark Vaghei, AIA.

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The subdivision layout resulted in two distinct lots, one is the front facing Bishop Lane and the other essentially a Flag Lot in the back but enjoying the views of the creek.  The issues of privacy and views became of paramount importance in planning the new homes.  Additionally , there were daylight set back planes, FAR and height restrictions that had to be adhered to.  What made things more interesting was an existing mature tree at the north-east corner of the front house which had to be preserved.  Front house was allowed to be a maximum of 2,600 SF  and the back house only 1,900 SF per the final subdivision map.  The final scheme called for a four bedrooms 4.5 bath front house and a three bedroom 3.5 bath back house.

The Client was very environmentally conscious and the County enforced strict Green Measures on the project.  This obviously resulted in an early awareness of passive solar issues in planning for the homes.  Large expanses of glass were used on the southern facades with use of overhang eyebrows and sunscreens to both allow for warm winter sun penetration while mitigating the effects of direct sunlight.  Recyclable materials were used throughout both homes. 

 A Fiber Cement Panel (FCP) Rains-screen system was introduced into the facade to both reduce the weight on the structure and assist in energy efficiency and moisture protection.  Both homes make use of standing seam metal roofing, IPE Siding, and Aluminum storefront window and door systems to keep the budget in check.   All Hard-scape in the site was eliminated in favor of  decomposed granite driveways and walkways to reduce urban run-off and stay true to the semi-rural nature of the surrounding.

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Construction is now completed and the new buyers are in the process of moving in.  For more pictures of the Bishop 1+1 residence and other work by atelier V: architecture, please go to : www.atelierv.com//projects/residential

For Previous article on Bishop 1 + 1 lane: Dialogue of two homes go to :   https://www.atelierv.com/vews/?p=1505

For additional construction progress photos please go to: www.atelierv.com  /work in progress/Bishop1+1 residence


Elise McCurley, Job Captain


Saabco Consulting, Inc.


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