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Bronze: High Commendation SOM Foundation Fellowship

Douglas Miller

Victorian townhouses, relocated to a subterranean museum under a park.
Victorian townhouses, relocated to a subterranean museum under a park.

The San Franciso Columbarium
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Tutors: Pascal Bronner, Thomas Hillier


Douglas Miller’s project explores ways of preserving the old residential landscapes of San Francisco’s heritage while accommodating the city’s expansion.

He proposes creating a columbarium of the city’s iconic ‘Painted Ladies’ houses by saving them from demolition and relocating them at Alamo Square Park, a hill top park on the edge of the city. Here they are turned into a subterranean museum embedded in a 30m high structure below the park, which is itself preserved as restored grasslands. Each Victorian house becomes part of the exhibit as it is restored within the columbarium, with visitors either descending into the museum to tour the houses or viewing them through windows from above. Giant protective curtains are pulled aside to reveal the houses and their distinctive colour combinations. The overall effect is the creation of a ‘dream like neighbourhood of lost San Francisco’. One wing is set aside for restoration work.

Inside the museum visitors can view ongoing restoration work.
Inside the museum visitors can view ongoing restoration work.

Meanwhile, above the columbarium, the park is increasingly dwarfed by new surrounding high rise development as the city expands. The sites where the houses once stood are turned into community squares, allowing the historic houses to play an active part in the development of the city through their relocation.

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