Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
Featured Company: L.O.C. Architects - Location: La Crescenta, California - Project Type: Residence - Project Name: Treehouse
Photos by LOC Architects and Alex Staniloff, alexstaniloff.com
By Risa Seidman
How do you double the size of a California ranch home that is blocked in on all sides by protected oak trees and suffers from lot-size constraints? Where many designers might see an obstacle, Poonam Sharma of LOC Architects saw an opportunity: build upward.
“The existing house did not take advantage of its unique and desirable context effectively,” Sharma says of the home, which is situated in Southern California’s San Gabriel foothills. “This 1,100-square-foot addition to a 900-square-foot existing home adds two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a new dining room, and a deck nestled in the existing roof, transforming a generic experience into one deeply rooted in the site and its natural environment.”
Aptly named “The Treehouse,” Sharma’s creation incorporates a large, cedar-clad addition perched atop a traditional ranch-style house, shaded by the ancient oak in the front yard. The addition cantilevers out from the existing home to what Sharma calls the “window wall,” overlooking the tree. Made up of 28 windows, some operable and some fixed, this wall gives the master bedroom an airy, treehouse feel, allowing fresh air and natural light to filter in through the oak leaves.
Of course, the construction of such a large addition on top of a house brings its own challenges. “The existing structure was not designed to take this load,” Sharma says, “and for it to do so would have involved the reconstruction of the majority of the footings and load-bearing walls, a prohibitively expensive proposition.” Instead, LOC Architects opted to go another route. By building a second-story addition that bridges the original structure, LOC was able to blend the addition’s supports into the house, using a newly constructed dining room and a second front façade wall to bear its weight.
The Treehouse is an exquisite balance of the natural and the manmade, taking root and soaring skywards in suburban Los Angeles.
To construct a second-story unit on top of an existing structure without damaging the existing finishes, LOC Architects brought in Evergreen Construction to assist. Owner Ahmad Morshedi says that although the process was not easy, he is pleased with how the final product keeps the integrity of the original building intact while floating freestanding from the main house.