Olson Kundig is a Seattle-based architecture studio that’s known for custom-creating some of the most impressive architectural details found in design today.
Renowned for creation of structurally sturdy yet movable and adaptable buildings, many people have described the firm’s work as half-machine, half-architecture. From residential homes in the Pacific Northwest to museums and places of worship, Olson Kundig incorporates a seamless industrial aesthetic into every project they take on.
While the firm’s portfolio is huge and wide-ranging, the building that arguably brought Olson Kundig to the world’s attention is Chicken Point Cabin — a little house with a big window.
Situated on a picturesque lake in northern Idaho, Chicken Point Cabin is a concrete black box featuring a massive window wall that measures 30 feet high by 20 feet wide. The 6-ton steel and glass structure opens up 90 degrees, connecting the entire living space to the water and surrounding forest.
Chicken Point Cabin — by now a classic example of groundbreaking contemporary architecture — showcases the exception to the rule of door-making. Most architecture firms don’t create bespoke details like mechanically diverse entryways, but the team at Olson Kundig thrives on experimentation and never-before-seen design solutions. This lakeside property has been highly praised for years thanks to its ability to convey a sense of both modern humility and power in its structural advancement. It is the epitome of Olson Kundig’s utter mastery of heavy-duty industrial-style architecture in domestic settings.
Essentially, Chicken Point Cabin’s window wall acts as a giant garage door. It pivots and tilts upward by a hand-powered crank connected to the door via a set of situated gears. It’s so lightweight, even a child could handle it with ease.
The door was called to creation after the client expressed interest in maximizing the cabin’s relationship with its picturesque outdoor setting. They wanted to get rid of the façade, while maintaining protection against the elements when needed. The window wall was Olson Kundig’s answer to bridging this gap between the inside and outside world.
While Chicken Point’s huge, moving façade is primarily functional, the mechanism itself is one of the most beautiful components ever concocted for a remote residence. The work of Olson Kundig reminds us that a single architectural detail can form the the standout feature of a building, pivoting away from the norm and into the realm of extraordinary architecture.
Check out more unique projects by the firm by exploring their in-depth firm profile.