An Architect’s Vision for California Living

Malcolm Davis Architecture’s stunning Northern California residences intuitively sculpt light while masterfully evoking their natural surroundings.

Malcolm Davis Architecture (MDA), founded by Bay Area native, Malcolm Davis, AIA, is known for its commitment to innovative and sustainable architecture that fully realizes its unique setting. Inspired by the Bay Region style, as well as the beauty of Northern California’s coastlines and valleys, MDA’s residential architecture intermingles the play of natural light with thoughtful interior and exterior connections.

Left: Portola Valley Residence: The home’s new guesthouse includes a sitting area and a second-floor artist’s studio that connects to the main house via a bridge. Right: Portola Valley Residence: The dynamic renovation of this hillside home means it is now fully connected to the nature that surrounds it. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Whether the firm begins with a blank slate or an existing structure, its projects develop character through careful interpretation and sensitivity to the site orientation, context, and climate. The result is modern architecture and interiors that convey a deep understanding of borrowed light and are often filled with naturally harmonious and artfully repurposed materials.

Above: Camp Baird: The modern interpretation of a traditional dogtrot home is comprised of two cabins placed along an L-shaped orientation. Under: Camp Baird: The elongated, solar-heated lap pool runs the length of the southfacing side, alongside an expansive ipe deck measuring nearly 1600 square feet. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Camp Baird
Passionate environmentalists, the clients for this residence desired a counterpoint to their busy, urban lives. Conceived as a family camp, the compound comprises two simple sheds and a lap pool, set against a California landscape of live oaks and bay trees, that is completely off the grid. Designed to blend in with the landscape, the camp takes its cues from materials and forms found in regional vernacular buildings.

Left: Noe Valley Residence: Skylights, strategically placed along the northern walls over existing exposed framing, animate the original volume of the house with a changing play of light and shadow throughout the day. Right: Coastal Retreat: Wall-mounted lighting add an industrial touch to the bright and airy living room. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Portola Valley Residence
Designed around an existing oak tree, this home pulls elements from its woodland surroundings allowing it to seamlessly blend into the existing landscape. The exterior is finished with burnt cedar siding and stucco to create an earthy tone, while significant design moves were made to the interior, including the addition of large floor-to-ceiling glass doors and a wrap-around balcony off of the dining room to take full advantage of the landscape and natural light.

According to the homeowners, “Malcolm’s home’s honor light, flow and airiness. His design for our home also reflects simplicity and timelessness.”

Left: Noe Valley Residence: Reinterpreted and expanded in a modern vocabulary, the house was transformed into a relaxed and inviting family home.Right: Portola Valley Residence: The dining room offers both spectacular views and access to the spacious new balcony. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Coastal Retreat
For this Sea Ranch residence, MDA created a streamlined, modern getaway. The home’s thoughtful 2,000 square feet is laid out in juxtaposing pod-like structures connected by a light-filled entryway. In keeping with MDA’s distinctive regional style, each volume is reminiscent of the vernacular, barn-like structures found in this iconic California locale, while offering a decidedly modern twist.

Left: Noe Valley Residence: The updated floor plan was completely reworked and expanded to create new interior volumes. Right: Coastal Retreat: Just a few steps away from the living space, the kitchen features vertical grain fir cabinets. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Noe Valley Residence
A young family purchased this home located on a dense San Francisco street after it had been flipped and stripped of character and charm. MDA reinterpreted and expanded it to reinstate its connection to the neighborhood, celebrate the house’s “old bones,” and maximize access to daylight, the garden below and views beyond.

Left: Coastal Retreat: A window nook in the master bedroom offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Right: Portola Valley Residence: Skylights in the master bathroom animate the space throughout the day. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

About Malcolm Davis Architecture /

MDA’s design philosophy is rooted in context, specifically site-specific, classic forms imbued with strong interior and exterior connections. Utilizing natural light is of paramount importance to the firm, as are the unique challenges of urban infill, historic buildings and sustainable building strategies. With a passion for bringing warmth to modern design, MDA celebrates each project’s character through careful interpretation and sensitivity to the program, orientation, context and climate, whether new build or renovation.

Architect: Malcolm Davis Architecture

Location: San Francisco, United States

Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Left: Portola Valley Residence: Clad with Cor-Ten corrugated steel, the guest house evokes the area’s agricultural buildings.Right: Coastal Retreat: Corrugated Cor-Ten steel clads the entryway connecting the home’s distinctive cedar-clad wings. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography

Above: Noe Valley Residence: A single sloped roof, paired with 11′ tall sliding doors defines the rear addition. Under: Camp Baird The screened-in porch, clad in ipe and black fiberglass mesh, serves as a sheltered open-air dining area. Photo credit: Joe Fletcher Photography