Wooded Wonderland: Open Plan Multi-Level Glass Cliff Home


Of all the homes an architect might design over the course of a career, the home he designs for his own family should undoubtedly be the best and most memorable. Such is the case with the work of Ray Kappe, legendary California architect. His home in Rustic Canyon in Los Angeles is known as one of the most distinctive and beautiful houses in the entire state of California.

The stunning home, built in 1967, is set on a hillside – but rather than nestling up into the rock, the structure seems to hover slightly above it. The natural springs on the site were left undisturbed and allowed to run beneath the home and through the lot. A series of exterior wooden trellises, decks and platforms extends from the body of the home, connecting it with the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Warm wood and expansive windows are overarching themes throughout the incredibly open home. Designed without interior walls and doors (other than those around the four bedrooms), the Kappe house manages its 4,000 square feet with a surprising sense of comfort and privacy. It is hugged on all sides by thick trees and protected from street views by virtue of its situation high up on the hill and on a 45 degree angle.

The Kappe home is arranged over a series of seven levels, many of which are visible from various vantage points throughout the interior. The same concrete towers that sink 30 feet into the site’s bedrock foundation extend up and through the living space, sheltering a fireplace and the home’s bathrooms, then continue up to the atrium-height ceilings, where they meet with skylights and clerestories.

From every vantage point, the home provides a healthy dose of nature along with a sense of comforting friendliness. This is a place meant for a family, not simply a project meant for display. The home has been described as a masterpiece, ranking among some of the most celebrated pieces of architecture not only in California but in America.

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