Great building design tends to fall into one of two categories: sweeping gestures that leave a mark but may or may not be useful or contextual, and subtle, detail-centric marvels, like this beautifully simple little home by Olson Kundig Architects, appropriately located in British Columbia where east and west cultures intersect.

“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.”

On one side, a weathered-wood deck plane bends gracefully into a weathered-concrete wall, providing a windbreak outside and framing the entry to the single-space retreat. Dangling from the wall is an outdoor shower, draining naturally off and through the wooden slats below.

On the other end, a second entrance leads out under a smaller overhang and a sheltered log pile against a backdrop of fire-safe CorTen steel.

In typical Northwestern (or Southwestern, from the Canadian perspective) style, light and dark browns provide a cabin-like color scheme, but modern lines and materials make the space feel contemporary as well as cozy.