Telegraph Hill Periscope

San Francisco, California

The Owners bought the house as their return to the City after living in the suburbs to raise a family. Set on a gritty alley on the south slope of Telegraph hill, the 835-square foot house was clearly too small for them and their occasional guests. In addition, the layout of the Victorian-era house (with a restored façade after a fire in the 1940’s) was not conducive to the open plan living they desired. At one time the house enjoyed a good amount of light and air, but over the years it had become engulfed by taller and denser buildings. The challenge was not only to gain light but also to capture the views blocked by the neighboring buildings.


At the rear of Lower Level and partially sunken to gain ceiling height, the Master Bedroom Suite is situated for privacy and quiet. To expand the depth of the Lower Level, the adjacent Courtyard is treated like a room with walls, but no ceiling. The dark stained wood boards of the rear façade turn and extend along the side and rear property lines.


At the Upper Level, the Living spaces have been relocated to the rear of the house to capture light and partial views through a new wall of glass. Connecting the levels is a new stairway. This vertical spine (periscope) projects up onto the roof to access a new Sunroom-Roof Deck. These rooftop spaces fully capture the spectacular views while blurring the line between interior and exterior space.


Structural Engineer: Strandberg Engineering

Photography: Michael Weber




San Francisco, California

Site Design by Lara Beth Mitchell