Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House

There are some houses that have real trees growing inside or straight up through them – which sounds wonderful, until you consider the problematic fact that a living tree tends to keep growing. This hillside home design takes that cool ‘tree-in-house’ concept and applies it with a series of creative twists, raised up high and visible from the distant downtown of LA.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House stairs

In architectural terms, the steel supports that shoot up through the raised dwelling at odd angles are a clever abstraction of the natural forest growing around this design by RPA. However, there is also the quite direct and literal engagement with surrounding trees in terms of both the placement and elevation of the building.

Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House window
Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House wood stove

Small, cozy and complete with an outdoor shower, this truly seems like it must sit much further from the bustling paved mega-metropolis of the West Coast. A few key design moves serve to further reinforce the connection of nature and architecture – outside and interior are joined visually, for example, via a dizzying in-floor, clear-glass inset that allows views down a branch of the tree that runs around and below the dwelling.

Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House garden

The sharp division of light and lofted living space and tied-to-the-ground construction is enhanced by the use of thin steel and light wood for the house itself and heavy gray concrete for the steps and platforms that lead up to it. While a house with a tree in it (or house up in an actual tree) provides one way to feel like you are living above it all, a home like this one manages to create a comparable effect with a more modern feel (and durable design).

Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House living room

“Part office/studio, part recreational getaway, this unique project is located at the base of a large pine tree in the backyard of a canyon residence.  The client is an artist and lover of nature so the Banyan Drive Treehouse, perched twelve feet off the ground, will serve as a creative respite from the demands of domestic responsibilities.”

Rockefeller Kempel Banyan Tree House desk

“Though modest in size, the plan is efficient and allows for a studio space/living area and a toilet room. Deep-oiled wood siding, mahogany windows, and a Rheinzink roof were chosen for their natural qualities and rich palette.”