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American Arch.
TREE HOUSE | Palo Alto, California, USA | 2017

TREE HOUSE | Palo Alto, California, USA | 2017

Architect: Aidlin Darling Design
Client: Withheld
General Contractor: DeMattei Construction Inc.
Photographers: Adam Rouse Photography

Interlocking volumes clad in zinc, cedar, stucco and glass form this family dwelling in northern California.

Encompassing 5,870 square feet, the Tree House is situated on a slender property in a dense, suburban neighbourhood in Silicon Valley's Palo Alto. 

Anchored by monumental oaks and redwoods, this modest sustainably designed suburban home offers expansive living spaces that extend into the landscape.

The existing trees inform a spatial arrangement of framed views, outdoor rooms, and screening for privacy.

The home rests atop a concrete plinth – a response to the site's high water table. Exterior walls are clad in grey zinc, red cedar and ivory stucco, along with large stretches of glass.

L-shaped in plan, the two-story residence stretches in a linear fashion from the front to the back of the property.

Mature redwood trees and evergreen oaks surround the home – and played an instrumental role in the design.

A metal skin and interlocking volumes obscure the demarcation of inside and outside.

The front elevation consists of a tall volume fronted by a low-lying garage. A pathway leads to the home's entrance, which is set back far from the street.

In the rear, the team carved away a portion of the lower level to form a generous shaded terrace that merges with a swimming pool and yard. Up above, a glass-walled balcony cantilevers over the patio.

Inside, the home features a spatial composition that enables natural ventilation and the stack effect, in which hot air is carried upward and out. Rooms are designed to engage with the landscape and to provide opportunities for indoor-outdoor living.

The ground level is divided into two distinct zones, separated by a corridor that runs through the centre of the plan. An office, gym and den are arrayed on one side.

The other side encompasses a kitchen and open-plan dining area and living room. Retractable glass walls enable the great room to seamlessly flow onto the rear terrace.

Three bedrooms and a master suite are located upstairs. Large windows provide an intimate connection to the surrounding tree canopies.

The front of the dwelling features a double-height entryway and wooden staircase lined with glazed banisters. A large Lindsey Adelman chandelier hangs in the foyer, adding a touch of exuberance to the subdued dwelling, which is dominated by neutral colours and streamlined decor.

Interior finishes are meant to strengthen the connection to the outdoors.


American Architecture
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