Behind the Scenes with AIA Marin Living Home Tour Architects


This Saturday, AIA SF opens up the doors to five Marin County residences for the 2nd annual Marin Living: Home Tours. Unlike other showcase home tours we’ve previewed this year, AIA tours veer from the tried and traditional to spotlight the contemporary design that Bay Area architecture is praised for.  Marin homes are built with respect to their land and the expansive Northern California views, but with this gain also comes the challenge of building on high grade slopes and around the curves of hills. Speaking with the architects of these tour homes gave me insight into their design proposals and solutions.

Aidlin Darling Design: Courtyard Residence

When asked to explain the concept behind the Courtyard Residence, Josh Aidlin chuckled as he told me about his “onion” concept. Like the layers of an onion, with a dash of inspiration from Japanese courtyard shrines, the outer walls “peel away” to conceal an inner sanctuary. With the courtyard as the focus of attention, Aidlin Darling architects built the structure and designed a landscape around the calm center. Nature shares space with the indoors with views of a serene reflecting pool and shading screens that extend from inside to the patio.

Concept Space Plan Models by Aidlin Darling Design

Perspective Sketch by Aidlin Darling Design


Bull Stockwell Allen Architects: Kellogg Residence

Designed in 1966 by Henrik Bull, the Kellogg Residence was given a kitchen remodel and a copper roof for the contemporary reveal. The neatly lined up spaces reflect mid-century ranch style and reference craft from Japan and Frank Llloyd Wright. The copper roof is broken up by a skylight that runs the length of the home, connecting separate living spaces and the carport.

Photo: Jeffrey Katz


Fischer Architecture: Graham Residence

Taking the footprint from the existing 1940s ranch house, Andrew Fischer layed out an entirely new space plan. Since the house is set on mature landscaping which includes two streams and a grove, nature, as it often is for architecture, was both a constraint and inspiration. Rooms and windows were oriented to glorify the site and maximize daylight. The homeowner’s art collection and the use of warm materials striked a personal note between client and contemporary architecture.

Model Renderings by Fischer Architecture


Nick Noyes Architecture: Tiburon Residence

The 4,000 sq. ft. home was reimagined on its existing foundation and slope to optimize the views of Mount Tam, Belvedere lagoon and the bay. Strategic restructuring allowed for sustainable advances such as the reuse of materials and a passive/active cooling and heating system. The residence is made up of two areas to separate cooking, dining, and sleeping, all connected by a transparent pass-through that shows off the view to the South.

Site Plan by Nick Noyes Architecture

Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects: Hillside Residence

Nestled in the hills, the Hillside Residence was perched on a steep slope to capture the expansive views of Mount Tam and the bay. Following the contouring landscape, the driveway was carved along the curves of the hill and the home built to embrace its site. Underneath a living roof and solar panels, among other sustainable developments implemented with this project, lies 5,800 sq. ft. and two finely considered floors. Though built on a hill with treehouse vertigo, the home is easy to navigate as it was designed especially for an elderly client.

Site Plan Sketch by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects


With the challenges of existing landscape and sloping ground, the design solutions accomplished with these site-specific projects set the Marin homes apart from other tours I’ve covered. The attention to environment, both in construction and sustainable consideration, truly makes these model homes.

The Marin Living: Home Tours is an extension of AIA San Francisco’s Architecture and the City festival, which celebrates architecture and design each September. To purchase tickets to the Marin Living Home Tours on Saturday, May 21, please visit the AIA webpage.

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