Suspension House by Fougeron Architecture spans a California creek

Zinc cladding and large stretches of glass feature in a holiday home bridging a creek that was remodeled and enlarged by American studio Fougeron Architecture.

The Suspension House serves as a weekend dwelling for a couple and their child. The project entailed the update and expansion of a 1970s, two-storey house that sits between two hills in an undisclosed location in California.

Suspension House by Fougeron Architecture in forested creek with sloped roof and glass walls
The Suspension House by Fougeron Architecture bridges a creek in California

While conceiving the revamp, San Francisco’s Fougeron Architecture set out to strengthen the home’s connection to the landscape and reduce its impact on the creek.

“A man-made object in nature may exist in harmony or disparity,” the studio said.

“The goal was to reconnect this structure into the environment while best utilizing the exceptional site for the clients.”

Suspension House in creek with steps down to water by Fougeron Architecture
The studio at to design a structure that was connected to the landscape

In California, it is no longer legal to build homes that span a creek, and existing homes over creeks are subject to stringent rules, which presented the architecture studio with significant challenges.

“There were strict guidelines on how to use the existing structure as the basis for design,” the studio said. “Most importantly, the new home had to follow the exact outline of the existing house and decks.”

Night view of Suspension House by Fougeron Architecture between two hills
The third storey sits at a right angle to the floors below

In turn, the architects kept the footprint of the bottom level and upper floor and added a third level that has a different orientation.

“The new third floor rotates 90 degrees to better relate to the site,” the team said.

“This shift breaks up the mass of the structure, giving some levity and height while differentiating itself from the lower floors.”

Steel structural support bars on building hovering over creek attached to side of hill
Steel supports and a new structural system keep the home suspended over the water below

Previous structural columns that extended to the creek were removed, and a new structural system was added to minimize disturbances to the creek, including the insertion of steel supports under the existing floors.

“The new structural system has been anchored to the bedrock within the flanks of the hill, suspending the home completely over the water,” the team said.

Upper storey of Californian creek house with glass panels, black columns, and zinc cladding
Large areas of glass interrupt the zinc cladding to offer wide views of the surrounding landscape

Exterior walls feature zinc cladding, along with large stretches of glass that open up sight lines.

Within the 2,500-square-foot (232-square-metre) dwelling, there is a division between public and private areas.

Kitchen with floor-to-ceiling glass windows with views of side of hill
The living and dining area on the middle floor features floor-to-ceiling windows

The bottom level contains a guest room and utility space, while the middle level includes the shared areas – a kitchen, dining area and living room. The top floor holds a master suite, bedroom and flex room.

A black-and-white color scheme was used indoors. Rooms feature stone flooring, contemporary decor and exposed columns and beams.

Bedroom in forested creek with panoramic views of surroundings through glass walls
Large glass walls in the bedroom provide panoramic views of the creek

Levels are connected by both interior and outdoor staircases, and several glass-lined terraces are found on the perimeter.

The house has a thin, sloped roof that is lifted above the upper level and is topped with photovoltaic panels.

Living room in California house with glass wall and skylight
Glass walls in the living area blur the boundary between the home and the surrounding nature

“The roof – like the home itself – hovers, creating a dynamic space with lots of natural light,” the team said.

The project also involved the design and construction of a guest cottage near the main home. The two-storey dwelling features brownish zinc cladding, a tall clerestory and a sloped roof.

Fougeron Architecture was founded in 1985 by architect Anne Fougeron.

Other projects by the studio include a renovated San Francisco townhouse that features a canted glass facade and bright orange stairwell and an urban residential building that has faceted exterior walls covered with gray rods.

The photography is by Joe Fletcher.

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