Jim Olson of Olson Kundig Architects has designed this cabin as a personal family retreat located on the Puget Sound in Longbranch, Washington. The architect’s reverence for nature and admiration of the property’s beauty is expressed in the design of his cabin which is nestled amidst the towering fir trees of an ancient forest.
What began as a 200-square-foot bunkhouse built in 1959 has morphed through subsequent remodels (in 1981, 1997, 2003, and 2014) into a modest weekend house. Each successive addition and remodel has reused and integrated the previous structure rather than erasing it, revealing the history of the architecture and the process of its evolution.
In the 1980s, the retreat consisted of three tiny pavilions linked by wooden platforms. In 2003, the pavilions were connected by a unifying roof, creating a single form grounded onto the hillside and projecting out over the landscape.
The living room’s large wall of glass frames a view of the adjoining grassy field and Puget Sound, visually blending the indoors and outdoors. In 2014, a master bedroom and two guest rooms were added, creating a retreat of 2,400 square feet.
The cabin is intentionally subdued in color and texture, allowing the lush natural surroundings to take precedence. Simple, readily available materials are used: wood-framed walls are sheathed in plywood or recycled boards, inside and outside; doubled pairs of steel columns support beams that in turn support exposed roof structures.
What We Love: Originally built by the architect in 1959 as his first project,