“Architecture is evolutionary – not revolutionary.”

Tom is an award-winning American architect with a National Design Award in Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. He is one of the principal architects at Olson Kundig’s design firm. His design philosophy revolves around making a genuine connection to the inhabitants and how they interact with their environments. He emphasizes the use of raw natural materials in projects and letting them evolve through exposure and human interaction. His designs create a coherent language between materials, textures, and the environment.

1. Dragonfly

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An open area overlooking the lake
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A disappearing Dragonfly ©olsonkundig.com/projects/dragonfly/
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The house is delicately placed in the environment

A family vacation home located in Montana is located on an ecotone between a pine forest and a lake. The house is delicately placed in the environment forming an extension rather than a creation, making it disappear into nature. The house has an open plan with double-height windows on either side, providing transparent views, interlacing the house, and the environment together in a boundless perception. He has used a lot of reclaimed wood around the house to create a coherent language of material, texture, and the environment. The details illustrate his design philosophies and ideologies.

2. Martin’s Lane Winery

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The fracture ©olsonkundig.com/projects/martins-lane-winery/
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The direction of the functions
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Marriage of the functions

The design for the winery has two components based on the two functions; the production and the selling. Both these areas follow the topography with the production area utilizing the natural slope for the winemaking process and the visitor area following the horizontal fields around. The point where the two parts and functions meet is named the fracture, down the middle of the building’s rectangular form.

3. Wagner Education Center at the Center for Wooden Boats

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Wagner education center at the center for wooden boats
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Engaging with the existing site
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wooden sliding shutter control the input of light

The new center for wooden boats had two functions it needed to fulfill from its design, first the engage and fit with the existing site, and secondly, conceiving an impactful image. The design manages to deliver on both fronts by incorporating in the architecture these functions as well as inspiration from boats. The large glass windows display the restoration work going on boats with sliding shutters to control the input of light. The large covered portico designs are inspired by the functioning of a boat to carefully control the temperature of the building by providing maximum heat in winter and passive cooling in summer.

4. Outpost

 

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Outpost ©olsonkundig.com/projects/outpost/
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Outpost ©olsonkundig.com/projects/outpost/
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Outpost ©olsonkundig.com/projects/outpost/

Live-work studio space for an artist in the middle of the desert again combines his coherent language of design. Space emerges out of the natural landscape and then merges back in without disturbing anything around it. He once described this project as a Tootsie pop roll, with a hard shell and softer interior. The outer shell is made out of concrete, plywood, the kind of material that can withstand the desert, while the interior finishes are left raw and unfinished. This contrast in material and texture beautifully presents a unique experience.

5. Shinsegae International

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Shinsegae international
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Shinsegae international
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– Shinsegae international

A 15-story headquarters for Shinsegae international in the middle of Seoul creates an impact on its surroundings.  This building is a showstopper for the luxury clothing brand with its contemporary design, robust materials, and energy efficiency. In most of his buildings, you can instantly identify the interlacing of the environment, materials, and inhabitants.

6. Slaughterhouse Beach House

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Slaughterehouse beach house
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Slaughterehouse beach house
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Slaughterehouse beach house

The design is created in harmony with nature and has to reflect an openness and flow of visual perception. This concept is derived from a surfing hut which usually has three zones; the living areas, private sleeping areas, and guest areas. The house blends with its surroundings which is a reflection of Tom Kundig’s design as well as the traditional surfing hut. The materials used are in keeping with the design, as the outer walls are constructed from rammed earth.

7. The Pierre

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The Pierre ©olsonkundig.com/projects/the-pierre/
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The Pierre ©olsonkundig.com/projects/the-pierre/
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The Pierre ©olsonkundig.com/projects/the-pierre/

Pierre is a French word for stone. The house is named appropriately, as it was designed to incorporate the stone existing on the site. In keeping with his design philosophy, you can observe that the house just blends into the surroundings with rough walls, a green roof, and the movements of stones. The stones also create a contrasting unfinished and raw texture in a finely furnished room.

8. Costa Rica Treehouse

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Costa Rica treehouse
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Costa Rica treehouse
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Costa Rica treehouse

The house is located on a site with a lot of trees and vegetation. The house peaks out of it on the top floor providing gorgeous views of the beach and the lower levels are encased by the trees maintaining the treehouse idea. The main construction material is local teak wood which provides the natural ambiance and helps in blending the house into its natural surroundings. The outer courtyards have screened shutters to control light and ventilation.

9. Chicken Point Cabin

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Chicken point cabin ©olsonkundig.com/projects/chicken-point-cabin/
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Chicken point cabin ©olsonkundig.com/projects/chicken-point-cabin/
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Chicken point cabin ©olsonkundig.com/projects/chicken-point-cabin/

The lakeside cabin has the most significant views of the lake and, that has been cleverly utilized by creating a rolling window that just provides depth to the cabin while interlacing it with the surroundings. The materials used have a contrast in textures. The living room is a finely furnished room with a massive raw and rustic fireplace. The material and texture contrast can be observed all around the cabin. The great window opening is the star feature of this house by merging it with the lake.

10. Dallas Design District

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Dallas design district ©olsonkundig.com/projects/dallas-design-district/
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Dallas design district ©olsonkundig.com/projects/dallas-design-district/
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Dallas design district ©olsonkundig.com/projects/dallas-design-district/

The Dallas design district is part of the revival of the neighborhood which is a center for art, design, and food. The district consists of two restaurants, a coffee shop, and a public courtyard. The district incorporates works of artists with a centerpiece being the “Moving Figure,” a sculpture by Daniel Arsham. The idea is to create an area inspired by the design culture of the neighborhood while engaging the public.

“I try to redefine what it means for humans to be in a relationship with architecture. Buildings are never finished – materials continue to change; clients move windows and walls and shutters. Materials allowed to age naturally are the evidence of time; they display a sense of history and place. In that sense, they are authentic.” – Tom Kundig.

Taapsi Nayyar
Author

Taapsi Nayyar, a recent post graduate in Interior Architecture and Spatial Design from Edinburgh College of Art, United Kingdom. She is an avid reader and painter with a passion for art, culture and architecture. Furthermore, she is working on exploring the relationship betweeninterior design theories and their impact on the psychological behavior of users.

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