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An Atypical Tree House

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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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