in san fransisco, california, architecture firm OPA has hidden a vibrant blue interior behind the wooden cladding of its latest modern residence. impacted by powerful neighborhood groups that restricted its envelope and appearance, the house wears a timber mask to hide the creative freedom that sets within and generates an unusual living environment for the open-minded occupants. 

vibrant blue interior peeks through dense wooden facade in OPA's san fransisco 'hidden house'
all images by joe fletcher

the facade by OPA achieves a blankness by abstracting the ubiquitous san francisco bay window and covering the entire front face with a dense cedar screen. the dark cedar boards twist at the bay window, thus allowing passers-by to catch a glimpse of the internal complexity. on the top right edge of the screen, the architects have installed a CNC-milled wedge whose members open progressively as they make their way up. the architects call this semi-transparent piece the ‘tear’ — a break in the building’s subdued exterior, and a subtle indicator of the daring interior. 

vibrant blue interior peeks through dense wooden facade in OPA's san fransisco 'hidden house'

behind the timber mask, the house showcases a split personality, with one side highlighted by the exclusive use of raw materials and the other drenched in pastel blue paint. a skylight emphasizes this split by creating a rift between these two zones, with one efficiently stacking the vertical circulation of the house, and the other accommodating varied horizontal living. each personality reflects a distinct spatial dynamic: fluid, varied extension in a horizontal plane versus vertical and vertiginous twisting.

vibrant blue interior peeks through dense wooden facade in OPA's san fransisco 'hidden house'

the blue circulation zone, highlighted by twisted and angled surfaces, is formed as a direct nod to the bright blue california sky. meanwhile, the western side of the house, featuring the kitchen, offices/studios, living room, dining room, and bedrooms, adopts an intentional rough character. this more industrial look is further accented by jutting, exposed plaster, recessed sharp lines of LED light, expanded metal, matte stone and concrete, sheetrock and plywood — all responding to the owners’ desire for casual unpretentiousness.

vibrant blue interior peeks through dense wooden facade in OPA's san fransisco 'hidden house'

vibrant blue interior peeks through dense facade in san fransisco 'hidden house' by OPA