130 Majestic Oak Trees Inspired This Sleek Beverly Hills Home

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Sprawling trees and spectacular canyon views were the driving forces behind the design of Oak Pass Main House.

In California, the Coast Live Oak tree is a protected species. Although the strict regulations for these trees don't normally alter one's daily life, they did heavily impact the design decisions for Los Angeles–based firm Walker Workshop when crafting a house on a 3.5-acre property with more than 130 Coast Live Oak trees. Yet, rather than look at the trees as a limitation, the team strategically integrated them into the layout of the stunning, 8,000-square-foot abode.

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The oak trees, along with the topography of the site, inspired the design of the modern house.

The oak trees, along with the topography of the site, inspired the design of the modern house.

Sited on a ridge that looks out to panoramic canyon views, the massing of the residence—formally known as the Oak Pass Main House—was reduced using an "upside down" program with five bedrooms buried into the hill beneath a green roof, and common areas located above. 

Because the architects wanted to showcase the view of one of the more majestic oaks on the property, they placed a lap pool below the tree so the mirror-like surface of the water would gracefully reflect its image.   

Because the architects wanted to showcase the view of one of the more majestic oaks on the property, they placed a lap pool below the tree so the mirror-like surface of the water would gracefully reflect its image.   

A smaller section of the house was placed alongside the pool as a pavilion. "It was important on this site to make it feel like nature was coming first, and the house second," says the firm's founder, Noah Walker, who thinks of design as a spiraling process. "In this case, the initial concept was strong, so the design was more a case of a series of progressive refinements."

A smaller section of the house was placed alongside the pool as a pavilion. "It was important on this site to make it feel like nature was coming first, and the house second," says the firm's founder, Noah Walker, who thinks of design as a spiraling process. "In this case, the initial concept was strong, so the design was more a case of a series of progressive refinements."

Constructed predominantly with structural concrete, the house can safely accommodate long, column-free spans and larger cantilevers, allowing it to visually integrate with the land.

Constructed predominantly with structural concrete, the house can safely accommodate long, column-free spans and larger cantilevers, allowing it to visually integrate with the land.

A 75-foot-long infinity pool slips beneath one of the largest oaks on the property.

A 75-foot-long infinity pool slips beneath one of the largest oaks on the property.

On top of the design, Walker Workshop also oversaw the construction of the house, which took two years to complete.

On top of the design, Walker Workshop also oversaw the construction of the house, which took two years to complete.

Custom walnut panels by GL Veneer have been incorporated in the dining room.

Custom walnut panels by GL Veneer have been incorporated in the dining room.

"Given the natural beauty of the site, I understood that it would be important to make the relatively large house as diminutive as possible," explains Walker. "To achieve this, I placed two-thirds of the program below grade, and much of it under a vegetated roof. Because the house is sited on a ridge, the lower level was still able to have commanding views and vistas from nearly every window."

"Given the natural beauty of the site, I understood that it would be important to make the relatively large house as diminutive as possible," explains Walker. "To achieve this, I placed two-thirds of the program below grade, and much of it under a vegetated roof. Because the house is sited on a ridge, the lower level was still able to have commanding views and vistas from nearly every window."

The kitchen features a pizza oven by Mugnaini.

The kitchen features a pizza oven by Mugnaini.

In the kitchen, a large window presents unobstructed canyon views.

In the kitchen, a large window presents unobstructed canyon views.

A staircase leads up from the bedroom on the lower level to the living areas on the upper floor.

A staircase leads up from the bedroom on the lower level to the living areas on the upper floor.

A courtyard on the lower level brings sunlight into the subterranean corridor where the bedrooms are located.   

A courtyard on the lower level brings sunlight into the subterranean corridor where the bedrooms are located.   

One of the last elements included was the interior courtyard, which was conceived as a solution to bring more light and nature to the private, underground program. The enclosed nature of this space provides a beautiful contrast to the open and expansive views above ground.

One of the last elements included was the interior courtyard, which was conceived as a solution to bring more light and nature to the private, underground program. The enclosed nature of this space provides a beautiful contrast to the open and expansive views above ground.

A skylit wine cellar.

A skylit wine cellar.

Walnut was used for the flooring on the lower bedroom level.

Walnut was used for the flooring on the lower bedroom level.

Limestone floors were used for the common areas on the upper level.

Limestone floors were used for the common areas on the upper level.

The lap pool has infinity edges on three of its four sides.

The lap pool has infinity edges on three of its four sides.

Project Credits: 

Architect and builder: Walker Workshop / @noah_walker

Structural engineering: John Labib & Associates

Civil engineering: Barbara L. Hall 

Landscape design: Sammy Castro 

Cabinetry: Palo Arte

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