About Real Cedar
Architect: Todd Davis Architecture
Location: San Francisco, CA
Photo: Mark Luthringer & Mike Chino
From weapons dump to funk metal jam space, there’s certainly no shortage of history behind this garage door. Among its many reinventions, during World War II, the San Fran property served as a munitions depot and then (according to ’80s folklore), Faith No More used it as band headquarters. But today, the Shotwell Residence is an industrial chic, urban oasis for a growing family. Of course, this latest transformation didn’t happen over night. As architect Todd Davis explains, the property was in pretty rough shape.
“Foreclosed in 2011, it endured much vandalism and a habitual squatter,” says Davis. “As a residence, it appears that no prior renovations were to code – water, electricity, and network was run overhead in one-inch pipes between the three structures.”
At the heart of the revived property is a secluded courtyard, which was created by cutting one of the concrete structures in half. This ultra hip patio “shell” – complete with an artisan tree root chandelier – is not your average outdoor structure (more like a beautiful “modern ruin”).
To balance out the brutalism of this open-air studio and tie it in with the newly remodeled rear residence as well as garage, Davis wanted to incorporate the warmth of a natural building material. He opted for Western Red Cedar.
“Cedar was chosen as the common material linking the exterior surfaces, wrapping the new façade surrounding the cleaned and sealed concrete garage walls,” he says. “Cedar continues down the walkway to surround the yard and cover the new canopy overhanging the main residence.
“Inset within the original corrugated metal siding,” he continues, “a cedar section highlights the main entrance and the master bedroom’s French doors. Finally, in the living room, the fireplace column is also wrapped in cedar.”
For this project, he didn’t bother treating the wood. Instead, he let the cedar weather naturally. This means overtime it will turn into a beautiful silvery grey patina – the perfect complement to all the concrete and corrugated aluminum siding. He also chose a knotty grade of cedar.
“While the faded grey cedar is going to blend with the other grey materials,” he says, “I still want it to have texture and its own voice.”
Fastening: Brad nail/air hammer
Applied Finish: None
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