Olson Kundig's One-Room Cabin Was Resilient Before the Word Became Fashionable

Kundig cabin© Tom Kundig/ Tim Bies Photographer

A small cabin in the woods designed by Tom Kundig in 2008 popped up on Dornob and caught my eye. Sitting in central Canada and looking out on dirty urban snow, I thought of the first paragraph he wrote in the book Tom Kundig: Houses:

All my life the larger landscape has been my source of inspiration. At twenty--a skeptical and perhaps reluctant student of architecture--I was bivouacking high on a mountain's north face. I watched as the sun disappeared to my left. With frightening speed the overwhelming and infinite cold night sky exposed my small world on that lonely frozen ledge. Feeling remarkably insignificant I shivered sleeplessly through the seemingly endless night, desperately looking to my right, watching and waiting for the painfully slow, but merciful sun to rise and warm my face and home. To this day I can relive that night's cycle of sunset, night sky, and sunrise with all of its meaning. It was a visceral awakening for me and my place in the world. Architecture became less of a career and more of a learning pathway.

Kundig cabinTom Kundig/ Tim Bies Photographer/CC BY 2.0

Reading that, I look at Kundig's work differently; it becomes clear why it is so solidly built, so well connected, so secure. He understands resilient design from personal experience; it's designed to survive the worst conditions that nature can throw at it. From the description of this Gulf Islands Cabin in British Columbia:

Kundig end© Tom Kundig/ Tim Bies Photographer

Set on an island north of the San Juans, the exterior metal skin of this single room cabin will be allowed to weather naturally. Inside, wood-finished surfaces create a cozy refuge. A large, weathered steel panel slides across a window wall, securing the space when the owner is away.

Kundig Interior© Tom Kundig/ Tim Bies Photographer

It certainly demonstrates that resilient design doesn't have to look like a bunker, it can be beautiful. More at Olson Kundig Architects

Tags: Less Is More | Living With Less | resilience | Small Spaces


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