The owners of Chicken Point Cabin and their two young children bought the waterfront property—located half an hour from their house in northern Idaho—in order to build a lakeside cabin. Their intent was to be able to use the house year-round, but especially during the summer, when the local weather can get oppressively hot. Their only directive to Tom was simple: make the house as open to the water as possible. Tom’s response to this challenge was as direct as the request: a large pivoting picture window on the waterside that literally opens up to the landscape. “Little house, big window,” in Tom’s words.
The cabin’s big window wall (30 feet by 20 feet) opens the entire living space to the forest and lake.
This direct and powerful gesture imposed a multitude of design and technical challenges. At first a simple counter- balance device using sandbags was proposed, then a power-generated mechanical system that treats the twenty- foot-by-thirty-foot window as a large garage door. The desire to design something that required direct action by the user, however, proved to be too irresistible. The final solution is a hand-cranked mechanical contraption employing a counterbalance principle through a set of gears, like that of a bicycle, that allow minimal input of force to pivot the six-ton steel and glass window. Although the gizmo employs sophisticated mechanical engineering, the result is not unlike the opening of a tent flap, allowing fresh air and unimpeded views to enter the cabin proper.
There's a natural beauty in the way things work…it's primal. To make something that makes you stop and think, even momentarily, about how something moves or changes direction connects us intimately to the natural forces in our world.
Although the family approaches the house by water during the summer months, during the winter the approach is by road, and the house is entered through the nineteen-foot steel door on the west side.
A plywood loft containing the master suite is suspended into the concrete-block shell and overlooks the living space, while additional bedrooms and service spaces are saddlebagged on the two sides of the main volume.
When you’re inside, you want to feel that the building would just be the frame or the background to your experience of the landscape.
Residential Architect Design Awards, Grand Award
AIA National Honor Awards, Honor Award
Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards, American Architecture Award
AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Awards, Honor Award
AIA Seattle Honor Awards, Honor Award
Heathcote, Edwin. “Living machines obsessions.” FT Weekend, 2-3 April 2016, 1, 15. Print.
“Lakeside Chicken Point Cabin Nestled in the Woods by Olson Kundig Architects.” Bob Vila Nation, 13 June 2012. Web.
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Kliczkowski, Guillermo Raul. “Cabaña Chicken Point.” Casas Internacional No. 122, Casas Compactas. Buenos Aires: Kliczkowski Publisher, 2010, 38-43. Book.
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Talarico, Wendy, and Smith Maran Architects. Graphic Standards Details: Openings. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., April 2005, cover, 1, 20-27. Book.
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Céspedes, Analya. “Abierta Al Lago.” Revista Vivienda y Decoración, El Merurio, 20 March 2004, 32. Print.
“Olson Sundberg Wins Chicken Point Award.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 6 Oct. 2004, 2. Print.
Paul, Linda Leigh. The Cabin Book. New York: Universe International Publications, Nov. 2004, 150-159. Book.
Riegel, Rich. “Architect Tom Kundig brings creativity, open mind to projects.” Portland Daily Journal of Commerce, 7 May 2004. Print.
Trulove, James Grayson. Cottages (New Style). New York: Harper Design International, April 2004, cover, 122-139. Book.
Viladas, Pilar. “Ferien im Flugzeughangar (Holiday in the Hangar).” HÄUSER, 3 Nov. 2004, 78-81. Print.
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Carrington, Dora. “Cubo magico con vista lago.” REVISTA DCasa, Sept. 2003, 86-95. Print.
“Chicken Point Cabin Wins AIA Seattle Design Award.” Inland Architect Magazine, Jan. 2003, cover, 6-7. Print.
Oliveria, D.F. “Hip CDA Cabin featured in Home Design.” The Spokesman-Review, 21 April 2003, A7. Print.
“AIA Awards: Now You Be the Jury.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 21 Nov. 2002, 1. Print.
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