False Bay Writer’s Cabin | Olson Kundig Architects

This modern cabin by Olson Kundig Architects is open to nature with glass walls on three sides. It has 500 sq ft of studio living space. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

A writer wanted a private retreat that would provide a secluded place to work, connected to nature but free of human interruptions and distractions. Olson Kundig Architects designed this modern cabin for the client’s property on Washington’s San Juan Island.

The 500 ft2 (46.5 ft2) cabin has two parts, a glass-walled box for the main living and work space, and a smaller steel-clad box containing the service functions. Both parts share a common roof with wide overhangs that shelter the decks on three sides. The roof has an inverted shape that directs rainwater towards the back of the cabin, keeping the decks drip free.

This modern cabin by Olson Kundig Architects is open to nature with glass walls on three sides. It has 500 sq ft of studio living space. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

With 10′ tall glass walls on three sides, the main room is as immersed in the natural environment as a conditioned indoor space can be. The writer only has to look up to watch passing wildlife and enjoy unimpeded views of the surrounding landscape. The fourth wall has bookshelves on one side and a concealed Murphy bed on the other, with a doorway in between leading into the service area. On the left is a compact galley kitchen with a fridge and several feet of counterspace, while to the right is the bathroom with shower.

This modern cabin by Olson Kundig Architects is open to nature with glass walls on three sides. It has 500 sq ft of studio living space. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

One of the client’s concerns was how to secure the small cabin when not in use. Olson Kundig devised a system in which the decks double as security shutters. They are hinged to the building and fold up against the window walls when lifted by a system of cables, pulley blocks and winches. The San Juan Islands have a pretty mild climate, but this system could potentially also be used to insulate the large glass areas on cold nights.

Photographs by Tim Bies, courtesy of Olson Kundig Architects.

Text copyright 2014 SmallHouseBliss. All Rights Reserved.

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