San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig

This rectilinear home works with its environment not through an organic shape but through a series of beautiful and tactical responses to the natural rock formations and greenery of the San Juan Islands.

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San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig water view

Rocks frame the front view toward the water on the first level, creating a semi-enclosed channel preserving privacy as well as strategic lines of sight.

San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig hills

Inside, outcroppings of rock are integrated everywhere from the living-and-dining-room hearth to a beautiful bathroom sink of natural stone that connects directly to the outdoors beyond.

San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig bath

Exterior formations provide everything from a foundation for a patio that opens out toward the water as well as a walkway up to the green roof above.

San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig terrace
San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig concrete wall

Brought to you by Olson Kundig Architects, fans of their work will recognize the metal, glass and concrete detailing – combined with an unusual attention to natural Seattle-area surroundings.

More from the architects

“The owner’s affection for a stone outcropping on her property inspired the design of this house. Conceived as a retreat nestled into the rock, the Pierre (the French word for stone) celebrates the materiality of the site. From certain angles, the house—with its rough materials, encompassing stone, green roof, and surrounding foliage—almost disappears into nature.”

San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig foundation

“To set the house deep into the site, portions of the rock outcropping were excavated through machine work and handwork. Excavated rock was re-used as crushed aggregate in the concrete flooring. Excavation marks were left exposed on all the stonework, a reminder of the building process.”

San Juan Islands Retreat Olson Kundig view

“Throughout the house, the rock extrudes into the space, contrasting with the luxurious textures of the furnishings. Interior and exterior fireplace hearths are carved out of existing stone; leveled on top, they are otherwise left raw. The master bathroom’s sink is composed of water cascading through three polished pools in the existing stone. Both the entry sequence and a powder room are fully carved out of the rock.”