A Cabin Decades in the Making

View all 15 Photos

To be successful in architecture can require a great level of patience, as it’s not uncommon for projects to be shelved for years before finally seeing construction finished. In some cases this can be quite extreme, such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Família that’s been under construction since 1882 (and hopes to finish around 2026). One such in-progress project comes in the form of Jim Olson’s Cabin at Longbranch, Washington. Olson started the cabin as a 14 square foot bunk house in 1959, when he was 18 years old, and since then has transformed it into a breathtaking retreat.

Olson started the cabin as a 14 square foot bunk house in 1959, when he was 18 years old, and since then has transformed it into a breathtaking retreat.

The home is in a way an ongoing conversation Olson has between architecture and nature, as its renovations in 1981, 1997, 2003 and 2014 have each built upon the remnants of what was said last. Instead of demolishing the former work, the new remodels have found ways to incorporate them; leading to a building that now stands with a wondrously timeless quality. Each layer has brought its own textures and colors, but all are tied together underneath an exposed roof structure, which is supported by glulam beams spanning between pairs of steel columns. Many of the materials move with their own motivations, such as interior fir flooring that extends to become exterior decking, as if every board in the place has a history and a story to tell. One of the most impressive rooms to come out of the decades long project is the living room, which boasts 11’ x 13’ windows to frame both the Puget Sound and help integrate the interior and exterior spaces of the home. Like Odysseus’s marital bed, the decking on the home’s exterior is built to accommodate three mature trees, allowing nature to keep on growing uninterrupted. At its heart, this cabin presents a way of thinking, honed over the career of a successful architect. One can only wait to see what new remodels the future has to hold for the cabin, as this conversation continues on. Photography by Kevin Scott.

Nathaniel Barlam

Nathaniel

Amid the unrest of earning his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from RISD, Nathaniel manages to find the time to read, write, hang out with friends, play drums, and listen to music. Nathaniel has learned a lot about architecture firsthand thanks to opportunities to live and work in Rome and Brooklyn during the past year. Coming from a family with strong roots in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Nathaniel has always maintained a strong love for NYC especially, and after his studies finish up in Providence he may move there for a while. He hasn't decided yet. You can connect with him via Linkedin or by visiting his Portfolio page.

Featured Products Explore new arrivals at the Gessato Shop

Take me there

  • The Kumaon

    A serene mountain retreat in the Himalayas. Located 1600m above sea level in the Village…

  • The Yays – Crane Apartment

    Sleeping in an industrial crane while visiting Amsterdam. Dutch company Yays is a new travel…

  • Babylonstoren

    An unforgettable hotel experience. In recent years, more and more tourists have started focusing on…

  • Michelberger Hotel, Berlin

    A hotel that feels like home. Berlin is filled with cool things to discover, but…

More for you

                array(5) {
  ["post__not_in"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    int(154091)
  }
  ["tag__not_in"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    int(16203)
    [1]=>
    int(9208)
  }
  ["posts_per_page"]=>
  int(12)
  ["caller_get_posts"]=>
  int(1)
  ["cat"]=>
  int(6178)
}
            
  • TL House

    An extension that expands both indoor and outdoor living spaces. Built in the 1970s in…

  • PH House

    A tastefully restored villa with a design-rich history. After a devastating fire almost destroyed this…

  • Trout Lake House

    A modern artist retreat inspired by agricultural buildings. Owned by an artist couple, Trout Lake…

  • Casa Hualle

    A dark, modern house built in the Chilean countryside. Standing tall in a gorgeous natural…

  • CCC House

    A modern extension that complements a traditional house. Located close to the center of Caniço,…

  • ILL House By INT2 Architecture

    A contemporary wooden house strongly linked to nature. Located in the middle of a woodland,…

  • Villa Sandmeier

    A contemporary house inspired by Japanese pavilions. Built in Veyrier, Switzerland, in a rural area…

  • Sonoma Wine Country Residence

    A modern home deeply connected to nature. Even before stepping inside the Sonoma Wine Country…

  • House In Serralves

    Brutalist simplicity. Portuguese architect João Vieira de Campos designed House in Serralves with a spartan…

  • L’Accostée House

    A contemporary house nestled into a natural landscape. Located on the shores of Lac St-François…

  • Albino Ortega House

    An oasis-like living space. Admiring it from the road, the Albino Ortega House looks striking…

Close Cart