The roof on this Washington State house opens to the sky

We can pop the top on convertible cars to let in fresh air and sunlight. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do the same to our homes? Most of us might never live this dream, but the lucky inhabitants of one beautiful house in Washington State’s San Juan Islands can do just that. While it’s not unusual for homes in more tropical locales to be permeable to the air, this is a unique way to modify the indoor outdoor lifestyle for cooler climates.

Olson Kundig Architects are renowned for subtle, landscape-suited works of regional architecture, but this one comes with a unique twist: a bathhouse with an operable roof that opens like a vertical garage (only far more elegant).

The Shadowboxx House by Olson Kundig Architects

Closed view of the indoor-outdoor bathhouse

The Shadowboxx dwelling is largely compact, symmetrical and perhaps somewhat Prairie Style (and/or Japanese) in its focus on horizontals, windows and fit within its surroundings.

The mechanical hinges on the bathhouse's operable roof

Situated next to the main structure is a smaller bathhouse, where an operable roof allows access to vertical views and the elements, turning it from an indoor to and outdoor space on demand.

View of the outdoors from the Shadowboxx bathhouse

The outdoor/indoor strategy reflects a larger concept about context, community and connection: “The building purposely confuses the traditional boundaries between a built structure and its surroundings. Its masses are modeled by winds off the water, exterior cladding is allowed to weather and rust, and shifting doors, shutters, walls and roofs constantly modulate the threshold between inside and outside.”

Shadowboxx House interiors

View of the sea at the Shadowboxx House

Which is not to suggest the main volume is not modular in its own ways as well: “A glass-walled bunkroom, it contains six custom-designed rolling platforms that serve both as sofas and beds and enable the room to morph and accommodate different functions. Exterior awning shutters facing the water can be closed for protection from the elements or for security when the owner is away.”

Loving the understated beauty of Olson Kundig’s signature organic architecture style? There’s lots more offbeat architecture where the Shadowboxx House came from. Check out architect Tom Kundig’s own home, the constantly evolving Cabin at Longbranch, the firm’s quirky rolling huts and the rugged Delta Shelter.