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How Olson Kundig Detailed the World’s Most Beautiful Door

Chicken Point Cabin features the lakeside doorway of your dreams.

Sydney Franklin Sydney Franklin

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Olson Kundig is a Seattle-based architecture studio that’s known for custom-creating some of the most impressive doors found in design today — ones that make your average pivot or swivel door look like child’s play.

In creating structurally sturdy yet movable and adaptable buildings, many people have actually described their 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. Perhaps the winning building that launched the firm to great fame and inspired their past 15 years of architectural innovation 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 relaxed outdoor setting. They literally wanted to get rid of the façade. The window wall was Olson Kundig’s answer to bridging this gap between the inside and outside world. While it is primarily a means to this end, the door itself is one of the most beautiful and functional components ever concocted for a remote cabin.

The window wall isn’t the only larger-than-life element of this small getaway home. It also includes a towering, 19-foot steel door next to the roadway that is used as the cabin’s entrance during winter months. Architects like Olson Kundig remind us that even doors — if they’re big enough — can be the exceptional standout structures on any building.

All images courtesy Olson Kundig

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