house of trees : city of trees
wood structure featuring open, flexible spaces

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“We started with the question ‘What is home?’

If you state ‘I am home,’ it has a lot of different meanings at a lot of different scales. It may be where you were born, it may be where you live, it may be the people you are amongst. So it is something that is deeply personal. It’s about place, it’s about material, and it’s about people.”


As New York-based firm LEVENBETTS discovered, home is an assortment of emotions, events, and life-changing moments. It is a collection of memories. It provides opportunities for connection between people and their environments. These relationships are most successful if they are carefully balanced with the needs of our forests and local ecology.

When these relationships are not considered, single-family lots become the norm, and houses dominate the landscape.

A graph depicting the process and mileage of sourcing trees.Map of Arkansas depicting where the trees came from and locations for the different stages of the process
Provided by LEVENBETTS

LEVENBETTS addresses the idea of sustainable urbanization with their structure, where homes create deep connections to the ecology and geography that define us and our community.

Sustainable Urbanization
Locally and responsibly sourced materials
Site-responsive design
Sensitivity to lot size

“Tree is a leaf and leaf is a tree —
house is a city and city is a house —
a tress is a tree but it is also a huge leaf —
a leaf is a leag, but it is also a tiny leaf —
a city is not a city unless it is also a huge house—a house is a house only if it is also a tiny city”

Aldo van Eyck, 1962


What is home?

To answer this question, LEVENBETTS first considered the many scales of home, from the planetary to the regional and the domestic.

Focusing on the regional aspect allowed them to explore the history, demographics, and environmental systems of Northwest Arkansas and how those systems have evolved over time.

They also discovered that current trends in land use, where new homes dominate small, urban lots and sweeping, single-family housing developments creep into rural areas, create a disconnection between existing ecological systems and the people who use them.

an opening in the forest with trees, three people are surveying the land and looking at the trees
In the fall of 2021, LEVENBETTS came to Northwest Arkansas to survey the land and find out what “home” means to the local community members.
Hands of a child placing stickers on paper
In a workshop at Crystal Bridges, participants shared their most precious memories of life. Words and phrases were combined and presented as a poem.

Interestingly, family and friends ranked as the most important element of home while creating connections to nature ranked a close second.

Poem created by combining participant’s workshop answers.

I remember Solitude and peace

quiet and centered

Loud and excited

Noise and rambles


I remember unhurried we gather

around the kitchen table

A window that opens to

the sloping meadow


I remember that July 2

Was a day of traveling

In a metal bird at cruising

speed and altitude


I remember the smells,

Taste and feels of farm life

I worked alongside

all family and friends.


I remember standing on

tip toes to see out the window

The backyard, clothesline and clothespins!

Lilac bushes lilies of the valley


I remember Home on the rach, 

Yet when hair bands rolled

Parachute pants came and went and

Video games replaced the outdoors

I remember creating

the space she would

Always call home

Between the pages of the book


I remember mom and I

We hurtle down the mountain

On the verge of losing control

Can we stay here forever

Ensconced in this warm glow?


I remember in my childhood of Shady Lane

My mom would bake the bread

My dad sisters and I

Enjoyed the smell of delicious bread


I remember we sip our lattes

And count to 21

Laughing as we play

I remember back in the early 90’s

My parents built a second living room

A window into the kitchen

My mom would watch us

I remember from the morning milk

As a child to sharing a cup of tea

With family as an adult

Those rainy window corners

I remember coming home

2 weeks gone but

Months were lost

My body hurt

I remember in the nook

Behind the kitchen

My grandparents

Drink coffee and smoke

I remember garden sweet

Sweet produce

Green beans

Snap cooing cows

I remember this is peace

This is comforts

Here all is well cozy

And safe

I remember there were many people

Who worked with my dad

Who did the work to turn

The materials into a home

close-up of wood structure with an open space

Learn from
the Architects


Working closely with skilled fabricators, LEVENBETTS incorporated detailed angles and intricate methods of joinery to create a dynamic, welcoming structure with space to create new memories of home.

This all-wood structure dances among the trees and compliments the contours of the land.

Responds to the environment
Open, flexible spaces
Movement of natural light
Multiple housing units with equal access to nature


LEVENBETTS sourced sustainably homegrown Arkansas timber and worked with local partners across the timber supply chain.

To ensure a smooth installation at Crystal Bridges, a local fabricator, Rift Customs, put the entire structure together off-site prior to installation at its final destination.

Special thanks to these local and regional partners:

Resource Management Service (RMS) | Arkansas Forestry Association | Anthony Timberlands | Canfor/Anthony Forest Products | Maverick Transportation | Project Learning Tree (PLT) | Rift Customs | Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) | Weyerhaeuser.

Stella Betts and David Leven


LEVENBETTS is a New York City architecture practice focusing on open architecture, where design for both domestic space and equitable cities is intended to be informal, open to alternative ways of living, and committed to connecting with nature to promote health and wellbeing.


Emerging from house of trees : city of trees is a new LEVENBETTS sub-entity called tank whose mission of equitable, eco-friendly architecture connects the ways we build cities and houses with stewardship of the land and care for one another.

tank is led by Stella Betts and David Leven, founders of LEVENBETTS, with Jen Shin, director of tank.

wood structure featuring roof with undulating beams

Explore this Exhibit in Virtual Reality

Explore the Architecture at Home virtual reality tour. Walk along the trail, view each structure in-depth, and read interpretation labels. Simply click the play button to get started.

In the lower left hand corner, click the second icon for "View Floor Plan" to see a map of the structures. Click the first icon to return to exploring the 3D space.