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Suspension House Bridges a Creek Between California Hills

12.06.22 | By
Suspension House Bridges a Creek Between California Hills

The Suspension House is one of those projects you don’t see often – it’s like a perfectly executed sculpture suspended in nature that someone gets to live in. The site-specific house is a remodel designed by San Francisco-based Fougeron Architecture that hovers above a creek between two California hills. There’s even a waterfall in the backyard. The goal was to strengthen the home’s connection to the surrounding environment of rocky hillsides and the water that runs underneath it.

angled view of multi story modern house built over river between two hills

Due to it no longer being legal to build homes over creeks in this part of California, there were strict guidelines in place for how to build off of the existing structure. The new laws required that the new structure had to follow the exact outline of the original house and decks.

exterior view of multi story modern house built over river between two hills

In lieu of disturbing the creek below, they built a new structural system into the bedrock of the hills, which allowed the house to be completely suspended over the water.

multi story modern house built over river between two hills

The new design now features floor-to-ceiling windows, floating staircases, see-through flooring, and open outdoor spaces, allowing views of the water from both sides of the house. Fougeron’s remodel keeps 50% of the original wood structure by utilizing a steel frame beneath the original floors and then anchoring the structure to the hillsides. That allowed them to remove the supporting columns from the creek bed.

multi story modern house built over river between two hills

closeup of multi story modern house built over river between two hills

closeup of multi story modern house built over river between two hills

closeup looking out from multi story modern house built over river between two hills

outdoor staircase of modern suspended house

exterior side view of corner of modern house suspended above river

side exterior view of multi story modern house built over river between two hills

The first two floors are kept like the original house in structure and orientation, while the top floor is rotated 90 degrees to better work with the site and views. The angled steel roof looks as if it’s hovering above the home thanks to the all of the glass and the minimal black steel frame.

closeup exterior view looking down through metal walkway of modern house

closeup walkway entrance view to suspended modern house

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

The interior is kept simple, with a monochromatic color scheme that doesn’t take away from the surrounding views. Natural light penetrates the house from all sides keeping it open and bright.

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white open staircase

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

interior view of modern, minimalist house with black and white finishes

view out to elevated deck of modern house suspended over river

exterior view of entryway to modern house

interior view of modern white closet with glass ceiling and window looking to rocky hill

view of modern home interior with main bedroom with two walls of glass looking out to hills

interior view of modern house with wall of glass windows

interior view of modern home with minimalsit bathroom with double sinks with windows instead of mirrors

interior view of modern home with minimalsit bathroom with double sinks with windows instead of mirrors

interior view of modern black and white bathroom

hillside view looking to modern guesthouse

There’s even a separate guest house that complements the main home’s design with its hovering roof resting on windows.

hillside view looking to modern guesthouse

interior view of modern guest house with minimalist black and white interior

interior view of modern guest house with minimalist black and white interior

interior view of modern guest house with minimalist black and white interior

black and white image of woman with short hair and large necklace

Architect and Fougeron Architecture founder Anne Fougeron

Photos by Joe Fletcher.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.