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

  • Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River

    A creatively designed retreat that celebrates an ancient local tradition. Built on the banks of…

  • andBeyond Vira Vira Lodge

    A serene retreat set on a working farm in Chile. Back in the early ‘90s,…

  • Eastwind Hotel & Bar

    A cozy upstate New York retreat in the Catskill Mountains. The brainchild of a group…

  • The Kumaon

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

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)
}
            
  • Caldeireiros Houses

    17th-century dwellings become modern apartments. Clínica de Arquitectura’s Caldeireiros Houses project began with the refurbishment…

  • Cerna Voda Mountain Lodge

    A compact cabin that complements its dark cladding with a warm interior. Nestled in a…

  • The Freycinet Lodge Pavilions

    A coastal retreat that immerses guests into nature. Located in a stunning natural landscape in…

  • Sydney Cottage by Panovscott

    A small house in an urban space becomes welcoming cottage linked to nature. The owner…

  • Casa Xólotl

    From a house in disrepair to architectural gem. Located in Mérida, Mexico, Casa Xólotl is…

  • Dancing Light House

    A modern dwelling that celebrates the desert, mountains, and light. Located in Paradise Valley, Arizona,…

  • Villa Monoi

    A dream getaway in Costa Rica. Built right near a beach between Playa Tamarindo and…

  • Trautenberk Microbrewery by ADR

    An old mountain lodge modernized into an elegant retreat. Located in the north-eastern part of…

  • House In Neveklov

    A black wooden house that hides a bright and airy interior. Minimalist and restrained, this…

  • The Mylla House

    A wooden cabin with a creative pinwheel design. Built on the top of a hill…

Close Cart