An Atypical Tree House

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photos by:
October 28, 2009

When a 40-year-old pine tree fell over at the rear of a Brentwood estate in Los Angeles a few years back, its owner, an art lover and a philanthropist, let it lie. The tree revived itself, continuing to grow from its newfound horizontal position. At that point, the owner decided to honor its resilience by incorporating it into a 172-square-foot office / guest house.

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  The tree house is perched on a hill that offers canyon vistas and views of downtown L. A. and the Getty Museum.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    The tree house is perched on a hill that offers canyon vistas and views of downtown L. A. and the Getty Museum.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  A clerestory around the perimeter of the butterfly roof gives an illusion that the roof floats over the box of the tree house.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    A clerestory around the perimeter of the butterfly roof gives an illusion that the roof floats over the box of the tree house.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  A mere 172 square feet, the tree house in the hills of Brentwood in Los Angeles was designed by Rockefeller Partners Architects, Inc. as a refuge, gallery and guest cottage.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    A mere 172 square feet, the tree house in the hills of Brentwood in Los Angeles was designed by Rockefeller Partners Architects, Inc. as a refuge, gallery and guest cottage.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  The entry and stairs to the tree house complex was sculpted from exposed, unpainted concrete, designed to suggest the ladder of a traditional tree house.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    The entry and stairs to the tree house complex was sculpted from exposed, unpainted concrete, designed to suggest the ladder of a traditional tree house.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  The tree house serves also as temporary guest quarters, with modern-day amenities like a daybed, a sink, a toilet, a small refrigerator, a fireplace and a microwave.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    The tree house serves also as temporary guest quarters, with modern-day amenities like a daybed, a sink, a toilet, a small refrigerator, a fireplace and a microwave.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  To reconnect back to the fallen tree, the architects carved a portal in the walnut floor, affording a view of the inspiration for the house itself.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    To reconnect back to the fallen tree, the architects carved a portal in the walnut floor, affording a view of the inspiration for the house itself.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  Materials and craft play a significant role inside and out. The columns are Type 316 stainless steel – almost nautical grade. Floors and walls are walnut; windows are mahogany.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    Materials and craft play a significant role inside and out. The columns are Type 316 stainless steel – almost nautical grade. Floors and walls are walnut; windows are mahogany.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  Metaphorically, architect Chris Kempel said, the Kynar-painted steel columns are trees. “It was like taking a box and poking it with chopsticks.”  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    Metaphorically, architect Chris Kempel said, the Kynar-painted steel columns are trees. “It was like taking a box and poking it with chopsticks.”

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  The architects took about eight months to design the tree house. Construction of the inhabitable sculpture, with its studio and lounge, took another 18 months.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    The architects took about eight months to design the tree house. Construction of the inhabitable sculpture, with its studio and lounge, took another 18 months.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  The outdoor shower below the tree house was shaped and formed from concrete to be a truly private experience.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    The outdoor shower below the tree house was shaped and formed from concrete to be a truly private experience.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  Large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors provide abundant natural light and ventilation.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier
    Large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors provide abundant natural light and ventilation.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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