Project NameRound House
Los Altos Hills, CAUnited States
Blessed with panoramic 180-degrees views of San Francisco Bay, it’s not hard to see why the new owners of this 1960s residence in the sleepy enclave of Los Altos Hills fell in love with the property. Its unique geometry was also a compelling selling point — the circular structure is one of the few similarly shaped houses built in California. In serious need of modernization, the aptly named Round House was thoroughly renovated by San Francisco-based practice Feldman Architecture who injected it with a sense of contemporary sophistication while staying true to its architectural idiosyncrasy and embracing its scenic setting.
One of the most affluent zip codes in the USA, Los Altos Hills is a purely residential area with large estates spread across rolling hills crisscrossed with hiking trails. Unlike the rustic mansions that appeared in the 1950s, the opulent Tuscan villas built during the 1990s dot.com boom, and the more recent sprawling residences of Silicon Valley billionaires, Round House is a modest affair that stands out for its spectacular views, circular shape and concentric layout, all three of which were driving forces behind the property’s remodelling.
Clad in charred wood—the product of Shou Sugi Ban, an ancient Japanese technique for waterproofing wooden surfaces—the house’s dark exterior complements its verdant surroundings, while the all-white interiors allow the vibrant views of the San Francisco Bay to take centre stage. A minimalist aesthetic of seamless concrete floors, crisp curved white walls, and mid-century-inspired furniture further enhances the prominence of the surrounding landscape while echoing the house’s architectural heritage.
Occupying what was originally a central courtyard, the round-shaped kitchen at the heart of the house constitutes the architects’ boldest intervention. Part of the open-plan living area that includes sitting and dining zones, the kitchen was conceived as much as a utilitarian as a social space—an appropriate gesture for an aspiring baker and a family of food enthusiasts. A hallway encircling the kitchen connects the entrance and living room with the pie-shaped bedrooms, while the concentric deck around the house allows outdoor access from every room.
Crowned by a circular skylight that functions as “a makeshift sundial that illuminates different sections of custom curved casework throughout the day”, the kitchen’s tailor-made concentric ring-shaped island, cabinetry, shelving and dining-counter exemplify the creative solutions that the circular floor plan demanded. The same applies to the curved patio doors that disappear into the walls, seamlessly connecting the kitchen with a spacious outdoor dining deck. Terraced gardens in concentric formations and a grass patio that provides additional outdoor space for recreation further tightens the bond between the house and the nature that surrounds it.