sundberg kundig allen architects, seattle The owners of this weekend retreat asked for a little cabin that opens to its natural surroundings. Tom Kundig, FAIA, took their request literally and metaphorically, designing a tough, concrete-and-steel tent in the woods and an enormous window that lifts away like a flap.

Kundig conceived the structure as three simple parts: a concrete block box, a plywood insert containing the master suite, and a 4-foot-diameter steel fireplace, a remnant from the Alaska pipeline. The concept is straightforward, but the gestures are meant to surprise. A 19-foot-tall steel entry door accommodates long skis and echoes the scale of the surrounding pines. In warm weather, the owners can open the 30-foot-by-20-foot window wall and wander freely from the living room to the beach. Centering the soaring living room is the fireplace, which acts as a structural component. “A cabin is intended to bring you out into the landscape, but it's also about the refuge from that landscape, so a fireplace becomes a very important element,” Kundig says. The judges admired the cabin's clarity and poetry. “It's a very clever solution to getting light and heat into the interior, and a celebration of the present,” a jury member said.

principal in charge / project architect: Tom Kundig, FAIA, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
general contractor: Doric Creager, MC Company, Spokane, Wash.
interior designer: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
project size: 3,400 square feet
site size: 0.5 acre
construction cost: Withheld
photographer: Benjamin Benschneider, except where noted