At its heart, this vacation house is about creating a place where a young family can gather away from the city to enjoy the outdoors and build a legacy of memories. Located on the ecotone, or border, between a Ponderosa pine forest and lake, the home is a framework for the family to experience nature. The house emphasizes the crossing point between these two ecological zones – a distinct yet subtle marker of the family’s presence and legacy.

Project: Dragonfly
Studio Name: Olson Kundig
Design Team:

  • Design Principal: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA
  • Project Architect: Justin Helmbrecht, LEED® AP
  • Interior Design: Debbie Kennedy, LEED® AP ID+C
  • Interior Design Staff: Laina Navarro, Brianna Schoeneman and Irina Bokova
  • Gizmo Design: Phil Turner

Area: 6,500 SF (604 square meters)
Year: 2016
Location: Whitefish, Montana, USA

  • General Contractor: Bear Mountain Builders
  • Landscape Architect: White Cloud Design
  • Lighting Design: O- Lighting
  • Gizmo Design: KB Architectural Services with Phil Turner
  • Gizmo Fabrication: Acutech

Photography Credits: Nic Lehoux

Dragonfly By Olson Kundig - Sheet6
©Nic Lehoux

The home’s materiality helps it fold into the landscape. Exterior siding of reclaimed barnwood will silver as it weathers, weaving the home into the forest. The center of the home is the open-plan living and dining area, which has double-height guillotine window walls on either side. From afar, this transparency allows for views through the home to the lake beyond. When both window walls are open, the effect is of a single plinth floating above the forest floor. Native plantings grow up to the home’s edges, and a screened porch on the south end opens to a covered deck. These varying degrees of enclosure allow the family to engage with nature during all seasons.

Dragonfly By Olson Kundig - Sheet12
©Nic Lehoux

A longtime vacation spot for the family, who camped there before their home was built, the home was designed to maintain a sense of natural discovery the family enjoyed when spending time on the land. The site plan is organized around a path leading through the forest and down to the lake. From the driveway, a gravel path leads across a meadow to the home’s entrance, then winds around the house and down the hill to the lake. Along the way, a constellation of outdoor spaces including covered decks, a fire pit and a hot pool nestled into the hillside chart a path of discovery from house to lake.

Dragonfly By Olson Kundig - Sheet14
©Nic Lehoux

“The house can dress to the climate – it’s designed to be used during all four seasons. It transitions from a protected refuge to a semi-enclosed condition, to an exposed prospect situation open to the lake.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal.

Olson Kundig

Olson Kundig is a full-service design firm providing integrated architecture, exhibit design, interior design, urban design and landscape architecture for clients around the world. The firm’s design approach is grounded in the belief that buildings can act as bridges between culture, nature and people, and that inspiring surroundings can positively affect every aspect of our daily lives.

Now in its sixth decade of practice, the firm’s work includes private and multi-family residential, cultural and museum projects, exhibition design, commercial and mixed-use design (including wineries and sports facilities), hospitality projects, places of worship, interior design, product design and landscape design. With deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, Olson Kundig and its staff of 200 work with clients around the world. More information at


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