olson sundberg kundig allen architects, seattle Tom Kundig, FAIA, likes concrete and steel because they are indestructible materials, and the fact that many of the parts used in this tiny cabin could be fabricated off site and bolted together quickly and inexpensively. But he also likes the way rusted steel blends with the trees. “People immediately react to weathered steel because they think of it as an unnatural material,” he says. “It takes awhile for them to realize it looks like bark.” The judges noticed, and commented that the cabin shows the hand of man yet is pure. “It blends into the landscape like a New England church,” one said.

Because the little square tower sits on a 100-year floodplain, Kundig raised it on stilts like a tree house, with large windows on each side so the owner can see in all four directions. One-half of each exterior wall is glazed, while the other half is clad in 16-gauge, hot-rolled steel sheets with exposed steel fasteners. When the owner closes up the house for the season, he does it literally, using a handwheel that simultaneously moves the four 10-foot-by-18-foot shutters over the glazed portion of each façade. “Like an open-and-shut case,” Kundig quips.

principal in charge / project architect: Tom Kundig, FAIA, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
general contractor: Tim Tanner, Seattle
project size: 1,000 square feet
site size: 43.2 acres
construction cost: Withheld
photography: Benjamin Benschneider