Delta Shelter

Location Mazama, Washington
Design Principal Tom Kundig

Delta Shelter – a 1,000 square-foot cabin – is essentially a steel-clad box on stilts that can be completely shuttered when the owner is away. The 200 square-foot footprint of the house rises above a 40-acre, 100-year flood plain adjacent to the Methow River. The verticality, coloring and raw nature of the materials used for construction directly respond to the wildness of the setting. The owner sought a compact, easy to maintain, virtually indestructible building to house himself and his friends for fun and adventure in the mountains. With an exterior of steel, the house is virtually indestructible.

The cabin is composed of three levels: the lowest level is half carport, half utility/storage room; the middle level consists of the entry, two small bedrooms and bathrooms; the top level is one large space which includes living, dining and cooking areas. Cantilevered steel decks extend from the top and middle levels and provide space for outdoor sleeping and entertaining.

Tom Kundig Design Principal

Inspired by the pivoting window mechanism at the Chicken Point Cabin, Kundig explored several options to open up the house, including shutters that swing open horizontally like large doors or vertically like propellers. In the end the most cost-effective solution was a set of four sliding double-height steel shutters that simultaneously open and close through hand-cranked mechanical means on the four sides of the house.

Aside from building as small a structure as possible and limiting the impact on the landscape, Delta Shelter’s most unique sustainable strategy was to be able to open the structure to the environment and to use human power as the means to do it. All four shutters, which measure 10’ x 18’, can be opened and closed simultaneously by using a hand wheel that moves the shutters over the glazed portions of each façade. The shutters are operated by a series of mechanical devices including a hand wheel, drive shafts, u-joints, spur gears and cables. All windows are operable. No air conditioning is included in the project.

The cabin is supported by four steel columns. Floors are 3” x 6” tongue-and-groove wood car-decking, and exterior wood infill walls are clad in 16-gauge, hot-rolled steel sheets with exposed steel fasteners which is left untreated and will rust and age naturally. Most of the structure, including the steel structure, roof panels, shutters, and stairs, was prefabricated off-site, thereby reducing on-site waste and site disruption. Due to prefabrication and the use of plywood for all interior surfaces, typical construction wastage was kept to a minimum.



Design Principal

Tom Kundig

Project Manager

Ellen Cecil

Interior Designer

Debbie Kennedy



AIA National Honor Awards, Honor Award


AIA National Housing Committee Awards, Committee Award

AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Awards, Honor Award

Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards, American Architecture Award


AIA Seattle Honor Awards, Merit Award

Architectural Record: Record Houses, Record House

Residential Architect Design Awards, Grand Award



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Morris, Bob. “Shelter from the Norm.” Robb Report Exceptional Properties, Jan. 2011, 42-48. Print.


“A Punto de Nieve.” Arquitectura y diseño No. 109, 2010, 30. Print.

Kliczkowski, Guillermo Raul. “Delta Shelter.” Casas Internacional No. 122, Casas Compactas. Buenos Aires: Kliczkowski Publisher, 2010. 44-49. Book.

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“Small Projects, Part 1.” Plan Magazine, Jan. 2010, 41. Print.


Broto, Carles. Superb Cabins. Spain: Links International, 16 Oct. 2009. Book.

Galindo, Michelle. “Delta Shelter.” Ice Architecture. Berlin: Braun Publishing, 2009. 162-165. Book.

Klanten, Robert, Sven Ehmann, and Lukas Feireiss. Arcadia: Cross Country Style, Architecture and Design. Berlin: Gestalten, Sept. 2009. Book.

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Young, Lucie. “Winter Retreat.” ELLE Decoration UK, Feb. 2009, 108-111. Print. Web.

Zeiger, Mimi. “Delta Shelter.” Tiny Houses. New York: Rizzoli Publications, 24 March 2009, 40-45. Book.


“AIA Honor Awards.” The Architect’s Newspaper, 27 Feb. 2008, 13. Print.

“American Institute of Architects, 2008 Honor Awards.” Architectural Record, May 2008, 140. Print.

“Architecture: a communication between human and nature.” A+A (Architecture + Art), April 2008, 28-33. Print.

“Casa-rifugio a Mazama, Washington State.” L’industria delle Costruzioni No. 400, March 2008, 16-21. Print. Web.

“Delta Shelter.” A+U 458 08:11 Dwelling and the Land, Nov. 2008, 50-55. Print.

“Delta Shelter: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.” International New Architecture Magazine (INA), Aug. 2008, 69-75. Print.

“Delta Shelter.” The American House. London: Phaidon Press, 15 Oct. 2008. Book.

“Give Me Shelter.” Spaces Magazine (UK edition), March 2008, 98-105. Print.

Lee, Uje. “Delta Shelter.” House on the Landscape. Seoul: C3 Publishing Co., 2008, 136-147. Book.

Murdock, James. “Winners of AIA’s 2008 Honor Awards named.” Architectural Record, Feb. 2008, 32. Print.

Otero, Palmira Rojas. “Refugio Escondido, Estilo: Delta Shelter.” El Nuevo Dia, Feb. 2008, 19. Print.

Rico, Beatriz. “Refugio Delta: OSKA Architects, Poderoso Abrigo.” Diseñart Magazine No. 23, Winter 2008, 76-83. Print.

“Turning the Tide.”  Grand Designs Magazine, May 2008, 138. Print.

Van Ert, Theresa. “Acciaio In Movimento.” Acciaio Arte Architettura, 17 Dec. 2008, 52-63. Print. Web.


Astigarraga, Marta Pérez, and Undine Pröhl. “Tom Kundig: Delta Shelter en Washington.” Diseño Interior, Oct. 2007, 188-195. Print.

Fonk, Hans. “Tom Kundig’s Delta Shelter: Creativity in Rugged Nature.” OBJEKT©International No. 40, Winter 2007, 126-131. Print.

Gordon, Alastair. “A Little Shelter.” Town & Country Vol. 161, Jan. 2007, 126-129. Print.

McNair, Jill. “Rust in Peace.” Inside Out Magazine, Jan. 2007, 60-66. Print.

“The Poetry and Utility of Tom Kundig.” Helvetica Bold, Nov. 2007. Web.

Witkiewicz, Grazyna. “Drewno Szklo I Stal.” Dom & Wnetrze, Dec. 2007, 104-109.  Print.


Bennett, Sam. “AIA winners cited for creating ‘spiritual, emotional moments’.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 8 Nov. 2006, cover, 3, 11. Print. Web.

“Clever box home.” Luxuryculture Inc., 16 Aug. 2006. Print.

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“House Bound.” Hinge Vol. 136, Nov. 2006, 74-75. Print.

Hutchins, Shelley D. “Open and Shut Case.” Custom Home, 1 Dec. 2006, 132. Print. Web. 

“Kundig Designs A House on Stilts for the Methow.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 3 May 2006, 2. Print.

Ngo, Dung. Tom Kundig: Houses. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. Book.

Russell, James S. “Record House 2006.” Architectural Record, April 2006, 92-97. Print.

Tröster, Christian. “Das Riesenspielzeug.” HÄUSER, May 2006, 22-23. Print.

Vertunni, Francesco. “Washington D.C., Iron house.” INTERNI No. 567, Dec. 2006, 36. Print.

Viladas, Pilar. “Fortified.” The New York Times, 22 Jan. 2006, 63-69. Print. Web. 

Weber, Cheryl. “2006 residential architect design awards.” Residential Architect, 17 May 2006, 56-57. Print. Web. 

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