We are easy to forget the role architecture, space and design play in shaping our memories — and how they come to shape each other. To redesign the existing bones of the Remember House, Edmonds + Lee Architects have given the past a prominent role in inspiring the present, as the foundations for more memories to be made. Stacked up on the San Francisco Noe Valley hills, this four-storey home is all about remembering where a family of three has come from, “and what they’d done to get here”.
The architectural adventure of the Remember House begins on the outside. While the exterior couldn’t be drastically altered on the existing site, Edmonds + Lee decided to wrap the home in black cladding. Juxtaposing structurally with its tightly packed neighbours, the black cladding is a bold contrast with the sea of white on each side and cascading green landscape.
Said to be one of San Francisco’s sunniest suburbs, Noe Valley is characterised by heritage hillside homes stacked high in a pancake fashion. Forgoing this pancake-style, Edmond + Lee Architects have maximised a feeling of space and scale, by opening the house in section, at double-height in the living and dining area. Prioritising vertical circulation, opening up the height allows a fluidity through each level, connected by a central staircase acting as the spine of the house. While this may have sacrificed physically usable space, it made for a far more vibrant and geometrically engaging home; and most importantly, a home arranged around the San Francisco sun.
If the light and airy Remember House reminds you of a gallery; that’s intentional. The interior is a departure from the matt black and entry into the all-white, as the client and architect preferred for the art, decor and furniture to be “the main visual interest”. This museum-like atmosphere is also obvious by the grand views and the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that make the cityscape front and centre. But these views aren’t the only thing the Remember House has been built around. The two-inch Douglas Fir flooring by Dinesen were the “very first design choice”, providing a continuity of materials that adhered to the white-washed theme. On this neutral bed, items have been placed as a reminder of the old, generating dramatic, modernist spaces.
Out of a clear and crisp vision, Edmond + Lees Architects have designed a family home for meaningful experiences and a myriad of memories. Put simply by the Architects themselves, the family of three can now enjoy a home elevated in style and structure, “from which to build a compelling and memorable life”.
‘We were designing a neutral canvas onto which they project their own artifacts…’
— Robert Edmonds, Edmonds + Lee Architects