City Cabin by Olson Kundig

City Cabin designed in 2015 by Olson Kundig, this 2,400 sqft private urban retreat is located in Seattle, Washington.

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About City Cabin

A Private Urban Retreat in Seattle

Nestled in one of Seattle’s most established residential neighborhoods, City Cabin’s design fulfills the client’s wish for a private urban sanctuary that connects her to nature. By positioning the 2,400-square-foot (223 square meters) house on the northwest corner of the property, the design maximizes the garden spaces on the south and east sides. The staggered footprint of the home allows for increased glazing, providing ample sunlight and picturesque garden views from every room. Aiming for net-zero energy consumption, the design incorporates essential sustainability features such as photovoltaic panels and an air-to-water heat pump. Planting mature trees and dense greenery transformed an ordinary urban infill lot into a secluded haven.

Flexible Living Spaces and Natural Light

City Cabin is organized around a central gathering area, with two wings extending from it—one containing the master suite and the other housing the guest room and storage areas. Serving as the heart of the home in both layout and function, the central area comprises an open kitchen and living space, defined by a 16-foot-high (4.9 meters) ceiling. A full-height window wall in this space overlooks the southeast gardens, while clerestory windows maximize solar gain and convey a sense of lightness without compromising privacy.

Sustainable Materials Inspired by Native American Art

The selection of materials and assemblies prioritizes economy and sustainability, while also drawing inspiration from the client’s extensive Native American art collection. Custom red-tinted concrete floors emulate red cedar and ochre colors, while natural, unstained plywood creates walls and ceilings, chosen for their durability and simplicity. The exterior features reclaimed fir siding from a nearby fruit storage warehouse, which will weather naturally with minimal upkeep. Durable galvanized steel roofing and beam endcaps complement the natural wood finishes, developing a rich patina with exposure. In addition to reclaimed materials, the house incorporates several eco-friendly strategies, such as a sedum green roof, reflecting the client’s long-standing commitment to environmental conservation.

Photography by Aaron Leitz

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- by Matt Watts