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No Place Like Home: Step Inside Jim Olson’s Stunning Treetop Residence

The architect walks us through his stunning treetop house in Longbranch, Washington.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

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“When I was 18, I was just a first-year architecture student. My dad gave me $500, and he said, ‘Go build a bunk house in the woods.’”

That is how it all started for Jim Olson, founder of Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig Architects. Together with Tom Kundig and a hugely talented team of designers, Olson has built a sterling reputation for creating homes of unparalleled beauty in the pristine wilderness of the American Northwest. In this video by NOWNESS, the architect walks us through his own home: a stunning treetop house in Longbranch, Washington.

Olson guides us through a modern cabin that is a physical manifestation of his firm’s rigorous design ethos. This is raw, rugged architecture that complements nature while retaining a striking contemporary aesthetic. The raw materials chosen for the house were selected for their natural, unadorned properties; wood and metal elements are allowed to weather gently over time, blending the building with its natural surroundings.

The house is unique, yet it echoes the textural qualities of many other structures by Olson Kundig, such as the Berkshire Residence, Pole Pass Cabin and the extraordinary Sol Duc Cabin.

In the film, the architect reflects on the contextual perfection of his home’s site in the remote forests of Washington. “The house ended up on a hillside, facing south, looking across a body of water,” says Olson.

“Later on in life, I’d studied — working in Asia, in Korea — the perfect place for a building is with a hill behind you, on a slope, looking south across water. I realized later that that’s what this place is doing. I didn’t plan it — I wish I had — but I think about it a lot.”

For more stunning images of and insight on projects by Olson Kundig Architects, explore the firm’s in-depth profile page on Architizer.

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