The Rose project was a challenging process. There were two dwelling units in need of major repairs due to water damage, mold, and structural issues. Almost no part of the existing structure elements was salvageable. So, the best solution was to demolish and replace the existing structure with two new dwelling units. But that solution was not possible because the existing structures were built outside of the allowable building setbacks mandated by the City of Berkeley Development Standards. If demolished we could not rebuild the structure in the same footprint and that would cause a significant loss of living space with almost less than 70% of the existing footprints (to about 70%).
In addition, the process of demolition and reconstruction would trigger the approval of the new design by the Use Permit (UP) process, which would take more than a year to complete.
The next step was to proceed with the design build process and obtain the permit for framing and structural repair, renovation and reinforcement. We faced a challenge in this stage, as we were limited by the building footprint restriction and could not expand the floor area of the new living spaces. We had to think creatively and find a way to use the existing space more efficiently. We decided to explore the possibility of utilizing “the existing forgotten space”, the attic, as a potential source of extra space. (Alternatively, we came up with an innovative solution to make use of “the existing forgotten space”, the attic, for the space we needed.)
In most of the old generation of houses, the attic space is either used as a thermal insulation buffer or as an unofficial storage space. We saw an opportunity to transform this hidden and neglected space into a valuable asset that would increase the heights and volumes of the rooms and create a more spacious feeling even when the actual floor area would remain unchanged. The most impressive example of this creative use of volume and height was the remodeling of the smaller dwelling units in the back, which had only 360 sq. ft. footprint. The second dwelling unit remodel was able to accommodate a decent size living room, a practical kitchen, a well-balanced bathroom, and a cozy sleeping loft above the kitchen and bathroom ceiling.
The Rose project was a renovation and remodel of the main dwelling unit in front of the property, which followed the same design concept of opening up the attic space. The result was a spacious living/dining room, kitchen, and two bedrooms that did not increase the original floor area of the building. The interior spaces offered a phenomenal experience, thanks to the high vaulted ceiling with generous use of skylight and recessed ceiling lights. These features enhanced the experience of the three-dimensional space as they brought to life the length, width, and depth of the geometric shapes in the ceiling.
The project also added a deck, porch and patio to the front building, which created a sense of indoor/outdoor connection that was lacking in the original house. The final touch was a small off street parking spot for an electrical vehicle charging station in front of the house.
The design and built of Rose project, with 2,640.00 sq ft lot area and 1,240.00 sq. ft. total gross floor area, provided two comfortable dwelling units in one of the best neighborhoods in Berkeley. The project showcased efficient design and excellent workmanship, and was completed in less than a year from design to construction.