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Monday, July 16, 2012

Living Memoir

Ezine Special
By: Ar. Jim Olson
Photography: Benjamin Benschneider, Michael Jensen; courtesy: Olson Kundig Architects


Ar. Jim Olson shares his labour of love – his personal cabin in Longbranch, Washington that has seen multiple phases of design and construction; and Jim is currently designing the next phase…


It began as a 14-foot square bunk house built in 1959 located on Puget Sound and nestled amidst the towering fir trees of an ancient forest in Longbranch, Washington. It has morphed through subsequent remodels - in 1981, 1997 and 2003 into a modest weekend house.

1958: Jim at age 18 during construction

Dated: 1959

Each successive addition and remodel has reused and integrated the previous structure rather than erasing it—revealing the history of the architecture.

Dated: 1984

Dated: 1984

Ar. Jim Olson’s reverence for nature and admiration of the site’s beauty is expressed in the design of this project.


Ar. Jim Olson on the creative process


Dated: 1984

Intentionally subdued in colour and texture, allowing the lush natural surroundings to take precedence, the 1,200 square feet cabin has rooms that are essentially a set of boxes set underneath a unifying roof creating a single form that is grounded onto the hillside and projects out over the landscape.

Dated: 2006

Dated: 2006

The living room’s large 11’ x 13’ window not only frames the view of the adjoining meadow and Puget Sound, but also visually blends the indoors and outdoors.

Dated: 2006

In addition to this large window, sliding doors, strategically placed windows and a domed skylight over the bed provide constant contact with nature.

Dated: 2006

Simple, readily available materials are used: wood framed walls are sheathed in plywood, inside and outside; doubled pairs of steel columns support glu-lam beams that in turn support an exposed roof structure; and interior fir flooring that, with additional spacing, becomes outdoor decking.

Dated: 2006

Dated: 2006

Three mature trees have been accommodated within the design and allowed to grow through openings in the deck, one of them exiting through an opening in the roof.

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Jim takes care that every subsequent alteration/addition holistically binds the architectural expression, unifying the original thought with current requisites.

He is currently designing the next phase.

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3 comments :

  1. What an inspiring space and beautiful sketches, to boot!
    Posted by Hanny Lerner on Linkedin Group: Interior Architecture + Design.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I find this far too strategic and obvious. The trees should be set free to accommodate the design; not the other way around. Observe their curves and get rid of those boxes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Marvelous
    Posted by lanka tripura

    ReplyDelete