Nobody designs for the Pacific Northwest quite like Jim Olson, principal of Seattle's Olson Kundig Architects. He's probably America's best contemporary equivalent of socio-architects like Scotland's Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose retreats for the barons of turn-of-the-century industry — like Blackwell House, on England's Lake Windermere — provided big-budget laboratories for his ideas about the place of the artisan within the coming age of mechanization.
longbranch (5 images)
A product of his own, different times, Olson explores ideas about the natural world, and the human footprint upon it. Olson's natural world is a distinct one: the forests of the Pacific Northwest. This small weekend retreat is a perfect example: At just 2,500 square feet, this weekend house in Longbranch, Washington, looks for a way to accommodate and celebrate the nature outside it, rather than subdue it. Floor-to-ceiling windows create a seamless partition between inside and outside; decks are cut to accommodate surrounding fauna. Elsewhere, flooring and roofing was cut to permit trees to continue growing in and around the house, including right through the deck itself.
If you look, we swear: You're gonna want to move. And maybe grow a beard.