Explosive Mix: Regional Cabin Meets Concrete Modernism

The entire time I lived in Seattle, there was something about architecture of the Northwest that defied description but defined much of the amazing work found in the area. This lake house (designed by Tom Kundig but built in Northern Idaho)?embodies some of the best aspects of regional Modernism that spreads out from around Puget Sound. Pop the top, and see what surprises burst from the box.

Concrete walls shoot up on three sides, while a giant pivot-opening, garage-style, box-window facade flips open toward the adjacent lake. The top seems to tip up as well, held aloft by a layer of glazing that drops in light along all four sides of the roof.

The material pallete is unpretentious and low maintenance – concrete block, steel beams, plywood ceilings and copious glass – but the deployment is downright stunning.

Weather is a fact of life throughout the Northwest, so picking materials that would age well in a natural setting is part of working within this context – and characteristic of works by area architects.

Creative accents abound, from splashes of color to reused pipes for the fireplace, chimney and a second-story ladder. A vintage-looking gear-and-pulley system allows for simple and effective access to the outdoors and natural cooling plus ventilation from the water’s surface.

Somehow, the home manages to feel contemporary, creative and unique, but also to embody the cozy-retreat typology of a northwestern forest cabin. In short: this is one design that should stand the test of time.

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