A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure

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By Jenny Xie / Published by Dwell
The four structures that form Studhorse in Northern Washington encourage family members and guests to interact with the landscape—and form lasting memories with each other.

Recalling the tradition of wagons around a campfire, an image quintessential to the Wild West, Studhorse by Olson Kundig is a series of four buildings encircling a courtyard and pool in the rugged terrain of Washington’s Methow Valley. Designed as a second home for an active family, the complex includes a public building, private quarters, guest rooms, and a detached sauna. The structures are sited on the crest of the 20-acre property, enjoying a stunning panorama. "How the buildings shape the views, particularly those of the surrounding Studhorse Ridge Mountains and Pearrygin Lake, became critical to the design process," says principal architect Tom Kundig.

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 1 of 10 - "This is a true four-season climate and there are so many ways to be part of it, whether it's gathering and dining outside, or swimming, or even watching a movie together," says Kundig. "Going from building to building is like going from tent to tent."

"This is a true four-season climate and there are so many ways to be part of it, whether it's gathering and dining outside, or swimming, or even watching a movie together," says Kundig. "Going from building to building is like going from tent to tent."

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 2 of 10 - The living room features glass walls that open up to the scenery, eliminating the barrier between interior and exterior.

The living room features glass walls that open up to the scenery, eliminating the barrier between interior and exterior.

Studhorse encourages a sense of exploration and a personal connection to the land. From taking a dip in the pool to having a drink at the indoor-outdoor bar, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with the environment. In a sense, Kundig explains, the home poses inconveniences because it compels you to cross from building to building. "But the clients and I see them as terrific moments, unforgettable moments," he says. "Adventure is about inconvenience in that it reaffirms and reminds you of where you live." He goes on to liken it to his love of mountain climbing: "While it may seem romantic, it’s also uncomfortable. And scary. You’re cold, hot, sore. Why would anyone do it, if they thought about it logically? But it’s about engaging life vigorously."

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 3 of 10 - A sliding mesh screen glides over the fireplace, which features a built-in cubby for a stockpile of wood.

A sliding mesh screen glides over the fireplace, which features a built-in cubby for a stockpile of wood.

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 4 of 10 - Wood siding salvaged from an old barn in Spokane, Washington, was repurposed for the project. "The varying tones of the wood reveal its history and use," says Kundig. Throughout the home, common materials are employed in fresh ways, such as exposed plywood used in the flooring and walls.

Wood siding salvaged from an old barn in Spokane, Washington, was repurposed for the project. "The varying tones of the wood reveal its history and use," says Kundig. Throughout the home, common materials are employed in fresh ways, such as exposed plywood used in the flooring and walls.

"Adventure is about inconvenience in that it reaffirms and reminds you of where you live." -Tom Kundig

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 5 of 10 - The walls of the bar open up, giving it a playful "Coney Island aspect," says Kundig. "It has turned out to be a particularly successful part of the architecture." Outside, a boulder reasserts the landscape—and serves as creative seating.

The walls of the bar open up, giving it a playful "Coney Island aspect," says Kundig. "It has turned out to be a particularly successful part of the architecture." Outside, a boulder reasserts the landscape—and serves as creative seating.

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 6 of 10 - In the summer months, the pool provides a welcome respite from the heat.

In the summer months, the pool provides a welcome respite from the heat.

The home makes use of steel, glass, concrete, and reclaimed wood—a hearty material palette that "[was] chosen for their resilience against the scorching summer sun and freezing, windy winters that define the region," shares Kundig. As it weathers, the residence will further melt into the landscape, making Studhorse a true expression of the family’s relationship to the setting, and each other. Says Kundig, "The clients are great parents and are always undertaking adventures as a mindful, deliberate way of developing memories as a family."

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 7 of 10 - A television is mounted on a pivoting wall that can either face the indoors or out toward the courtyard, emphasizing the entertainment aspect of the home.

A television is mounted on a pivoting wall that can either face the indoors or out toward the courtyard, emphasizing the entertainment aspect of the home.

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 8 of 10 - The master bedroom, kids' bedrooms, and den are ensconced in the "A2" building.

The master bedroom, kids' bedrooms, and den are ensconced in the "A2" building.

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 9 of 10 - The courtyard-facing side of the garage provides an overhang for a multifunctional playroom or entertainment space.

The courtyard-facing side of the garage provides an overhang for a multifunctional playroom or entertainment space.

A Steel-and-Glass Compound Is One Family’s Launchpad For Adventure - Photo 10 of 10 - Says Kundig, "The clients are great parents and are always undertaking adventures as a mindful, deliberate way of developing memories as a family."

Says Kundig, "The clients are great parents and are always undertaking adventures as a mindful, deliberate way of developing memories as a family."

Olson Kundig uploaded Studhorse through Add a Home. Add your own project for the chance to be featured.