Located in one of Seattle’s most established residential areas, City Cabin’s design answers the client’s desire for a private urban retreat that would connect her to nature. A staggered footprint on the lot allows for dense landscaping, and extensive glazing throughout the house increases solar gains and maximizes garden views. With the goal of net-zero energy use, the home’s design incorporates key sustainability features, and the incorporation of thick greenery onto the site transforms an ordinary urban infill lot into a private refuge.

Architect: Olson Kundig
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Status: Built; Completed 2015
Project Size: 2,400 sq ft

Project Team: Jim Olson, FAIA, Design Principal; Renee Boone, Project Manager and Project Architect; Christine Burkland, Interior Design

Key Consultants: Dovetail General Contractors, General Contractor; Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Civil Engineer; MCE Structural Consultants, Structural Engineer; WSP, Mechanical Engineer; Palm Room, Landscape Architect; DePelecyn Studio, Lighting Design; RDH, Envelope

Photography: Aaron Leitz

City Cabin by Olson Kundig - Sheet6
© Aaron Leitz

The 2,400-square-foot home is organized around a central gathering space with two wings extending from it: one with the master suite and the other containing the guest room and storage areas. The heart of the home in plan as well as function, the central area, which consists of an open kitchen and living space, is a single volume defined by a 16-foot-high ceiling and full-height window walls.

City Cabin by Olson Kundig - Sheet8
© Aaron Leitz

The interior palette draws inspiration from the client’s extensive Native American art collection with custom tinted red concrete floors and natural, unstained plywood walls and ceilings.

City Cabin by Olson Kundig - Sheet11
© Aaron Leitz

Reclaimed fir siding and galvanized steel roofing continue the emphasis on sustainability and economy. The house incorporates several green strategies such as a green roof, photovoltaic panels and an air-to-water heat pump, reflecting the client’s longstanding engagement with environmental conservation.


Olson Kundig is a collaborative global design practice whose work expands the context of built and natural landscapes. Led by five owners, the firm’s work can be found in more than fifteen countries on five continents, with projects ranging from cultural and museum projects to exhibition design, commercial and mixed-use design, private and multi-family residential, hospitality projects, places of worship, interior design, product design and landscape design.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.