Surface Design creates outdoor spaces for Butterfly House

Surface Design creates verdant terraces for Butterfly House in San Francisco

Taking cues from Japanese gardens, landscape architecture firm Surface Design has created a series of planted terraces for a renovated home in San Francisco (+ slideshow).

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

San Francisco-based Surface Design created the landscaping scheme for the Butterfly House, a multi-storey, mid-century residence that was redesigned in 2013 by local firm John Maniscalco Architecture.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

The outdoor spaces are composed of horizontal planes. They feature elements such as light, water and fire, as well as traditional planting.

These were intended to provide the homeowners with "a serene respite from the city, extending domestic life beyond the walls of the home and into the landscape," said the designers.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

At ground level, folding glass doors create a transition between the living room and courtyard.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

A cantilevered, covered walkway lines one side of the courtyard, with ferns and Japanese anemone flowers peeking out from underneath.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

Suspended from the walkway's ceiling is a sculpture composed of delicate metal cranes affixed to thin ropes. The designers collaborated with a local foundry to fabricate the cast-aluminium bird figures, while a skylight bathes the installation in natural light.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

"A hidden fountain in the deck above envelopes the cranes in a mist of fog at the flip of a switch," said the designers. "Light, mist and shadows reflect the facets of the cranes, allowing them to dance on the walls of the courtyard."

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

The walkway faces a compact garden defined by elongated stone pavers and a variety of foliage. A fireplace made of poured-in-place concrete anchors the area and serves as a space for socialising.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

"The hearth itself is an abstract composition of pristine white concrete and the rippling surface of a black basalt fountain wall that slides behind the flame of the linear fire pit," the designers said.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

At night, a band of recessed lighting illuminates the courtyard, "highlighting the floating architectural edges and washing the sunken plantings with light".

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

Stairs in the courtyard lead to a catwalk overlooking the courtyard. In this linear space, cedar benches sit on recessed tracks and can be reconfigured as needed. The area also contains a garden with herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

"Pots of citrus trees complete this urban garden, as the owners harvest lemons, limes and blood oranges in the winter, and sit amongst the citrus blossoms in the spring," said the designers.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

The project included the addition of a rooftop deck, where custom steel planters at the base of glass railings are filled with succulents. It features wooden decking, a fire pit and wicker furnishings.

The deck offers expansive city views, with the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz visible in the distance.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

Tucked into a sloped, urban site, the mid-century-modern home completed by John Maniscalco Architecture in 2013 encompasses 462 square metres and rises four storeys.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

The house is located on a sloped site in the city's Russian Hill neighbourhood and its street-facing facade features wood, glass and stone.

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture

Photography is by Marion Brenner.


Project credits:

Landscape architect: Surface Design
Architect of the house: John Maniscalco
Landscape contractor: Siteworks Landscape
Collaborator: Blue Barn Arts (crane sculpture)

Butterfly House by Surface Design and John Maniscalco Architecture
Plan – click for larger image