Tropical Modern with Kristoffer Koster

San Francisco-based SB Architects conjures a stunning resort-style, a beachside compound in the Caribbean. What do The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage, and The Maillouhana—an Auberge Resort—have in common besides five-star ratings? The answer: the visionary team behind San Francisco-based SB Architects. This creative powerhouse is responsible for some of the world’s most beautiful hotels, resorts, and private estates. When our Gentry Home team spied the scouting shots for the project seen here, we knew we had to showcase it for our readers. SB Architect’s Vice President and Associate Principal Kristoffer Koster recalls, “From the very beginning, our client wanted to maximize the use of a long and narrow lot and, of course, wanted everything to be focused on the view. The idea of a village started to come out of the design process as the client wanted to create separate guesthouses for visitors. It was at this juncture that we formulated the idea of pavilions set along a winding path behind the house.”


That idea multiplied and developed to include a series of pavilions for the main house as well. “By breaking the main house down,” notes Koster, “the scale of the property became much more human.” To connect the spaces, the SB Architects team created bridges between the two wings of the house. “This allowed the entry court to connect to the backyard and the view of the beach beyond,” Koster adds. “Simultaneously, the reflecting pond and the operable windows allow the main house to collect cool breezes to help cool down the main body of the residence.” One of the home’s most striking elements—a floating staircase— proved to be one of its most challenging. As the design evolved, the stair went from being internal to external. Set in the front atrium of the residence, the staircase (which went through nearly 20 design iterations) is balanced against a sculpture. “Ultimately,” says Koster, “the staircase is one-of-a-kind. With two arching curves and a curved landing, it is attached at the base and the top, along with a point from the column that lines up with the landing, to give it a seamless and lofty look. The treads are crafted from the same travertine as the entry floor. We had them honed to give the right amount of resistance for exterior use.”


Another ultra-modern design technique was used for the knife-edge roof plane. Koster points out, “Our clients were looking for a modern expression of architecture but wanted pitched roofs. They had built a few contemporary homes in the past with flat roofs, and they all leaked. In order to create a clean, contemporary look, we decided on a knife-edge design to complement the pavilions.” The knife-edge is built on a steel sub-structure and consists of only one single piece of bent aluminum that cleverly conceals the gutter system and enables the roof to shed the amount of rain that comes down in the tropical setting. To maximize the view on the long narrow lot with only 100 feet of ocean frontage, Koster and the SB Architects team sat down with the client to prioritize which components of the house must have a view.


The architect relates, “The living and dining room, his and her offices, and the master bedroom made the ‘must have’ views list. In the end, we were able to get his and her bathrooms with views as well by adding glass bridges. And some of the structures behind the main house got framed views through the house, along with views from the main courtyard. The clients were thrilled that they could see the ocean and maximize the views from all angles of the property.” Koster says that he couldn’t imagine a better design for this client and notes that he attended a housewarming party after they moved in. “The homeowner was grinning from ear to ear at the party,” says Koster. “He introduced me to all of his guests, saying, ‘Here is my architect.’ It was the best feeling in the world, knowing that we had designed a space that suited the client to a ‘T’.”


For more information, connect at