A Contemporary Tree House in Beverly Hills

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Could you believe this contemporary home used to be an old barn?  We love the location of this home, which allows lots of peace and quiet.  Even better is the fact that the living room can be converted into a music venue.  The home offer lots of different places where you can enjoy the silence, read, write, relax, listen to the music and enjoy.  And, we of course love the fact that the furniture includes the iconic Acapulco chair.

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This “Oak Pass Road guesthouse” home was designed by Walker Workshop Design Build for Nathan Frankel, an amateur violinist, in Beverly Hills, California.  In 2008, when Frankel began to envision a custom-built home for himself, he knew he wanted two elements:  supreme quiet, so he could focus on listening to and playing music, and a space where others—sometimes many others—could do the same.  With architect Noah Walker, principal of the Los Angeles–based Walker Workshop Design Build, Frankel has created a guesthouse high in a Beverly Hills canyon, featuring a living room that doubles as an 80-seat concert hall.

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The perfect parcel of land finally presented itself in the form of a 3.5-acre hilltop plot, where in the 1970s a previous owner threw debauched parties prowled—neighborhood legend has it—by the likes of Bob Dylan.  One can see why superstars might feel free to let loose here: Surrounded by canyon views and greenery, it feels more like a remote state-park outpost than private land just four miles from Rodeo Drive.  Still, the parcel wasn’t without its downsides, like a narrow access road that made the fire department nervous—Frankel allayed their fears by installing a fire hydrant on the property—or the stands of protected walnut and coast live oak trees spilling down the hillside, which by law can’t be damaged or removed.

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For both client and architect, though, trees were less an obstacle than an inspiration for the open, minimalist two-bedroom home.  “This is very much a tree house in a lot of ways,” Walker says.  Taking cues in part from Kyoto’s Entsuji Temple and its long views of the countryside, he designed almost every room with giant windows—made with especially clear, low-iron glass—framing the tree canopy.  He deployed a dark interior color palette to match the oaks’ deep greens and grays.  Shortly after construction began, he even shifted the footprint of the house to save a eucalyptus tree he’d originally planned to uproot.  Shooting up a mere foot from the back deck, it has become, Walker says, “this wonderful sort of feature… it really starts to shape your experience of the house, how it’s just nestled into the trees.”

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Not surprisingly, the architect saved the most impressive natural display for the living room, which doubles as a concert hall.  The space was built around the bones of a 1940s-era barn that came with the property; Walker added ten feet to the structure’s length, extending it toward a stand of oaks.  Then he installed a floor-to-ceiling window—three massive panes of glass, taking up almost an entire wall—to create a spectacular wide-screen view of the trees that serves as the backdrop for the musical performances.

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“That is about as magical as it could have ever happened for me,” says Frankel, gesturing toward the window.  “At Interlochen, we would play music and practice in cabins that were in the woods, or at the side of a lake.  It was that sort of integration of nature and music.”

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Read the full article in Dwell.

Walker Workshop Design Build describes the home: “The Oak Pass Road guesthouse uses its height and a small footprint to maximize panoramic canyon views and strengthen its connection to the surrounding tree-filled site. The lower level consists of a rehabbed and enlarged barn and newly constructed living spaces. The upper floor is clad in wood and has bedrooms at opposite corners of the floating volume.”

Photographs via Walker Workshop and José Mandojana.



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