• keithhickman

Touring the Breathtaking Kappe Residence in Rustic Canyon

The home that influential architect Ray Kappe built for himself and his family in 1967 is one of the most magnificent houses in Los Angeles and a true icon of Modern residential architecture. Situated on a steep hillside lot in Pacific Palisades, the house faced a challenge beyond that of slope: active underground springs saturate the ground, rendering it unstable for normal building. Kappe solved these problems head-on by placing his design on six massive concrete footings driven deep into the ground and allowing the springs to flow freely underneath.

The house itself sits on massive laminated fir beams that stretch from concrete tower to concrete tower atop the footings, situating it high above the ground like a treehouse. Everything else about the design reinforces this feeling: massive windows open the interior to the natural landscape outside, while most of the finishes are warm natural wood and numerous redwood decks and trellises surround the exterior.

The house's rooms are staggered to adapt to the site's slope and, with a few exceptions, are completely open to each other, separated only by their varying elevations. The concrete towers supporting the structure are hollow and contain skylights to illuminate the spaces within them.

The outdoor spaces are just as layered: there's a garden off the carport, a cantilevered deck extending from the lower living room, and one off the dining rooms that leads up to the pool and garden, which were built in 1980 (that includes a lap pool; a spa; and a poolhouse with a shower, sauna, kitchen, dressing room, and bathroom). That space leads around to a roof deck above the kitchen that's about level with the top of the property. The whole site is dense with sycamore, eucalyptus, and oak trees.

The Kappe House is a tremendous blending of the natural materials favored by the Arts and Crafts movement and the strong, simple innovations introduced by Los Angeles' modernists. As such, it may be one of the purest examples of regional architecture in Los Angeles.