Immersed in Nature, This City Cabin Targets Net-Zero Energy
When Jim Olson, co-founder of the award-winning architecture studio Olson Kundig, was asked by his longtime friend and neighbor to design her new home in Seattle, he had a ready source of inspiration to draw from: his recently expanded Cabin in Longbranch.
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The client loved Jim’s cabin in Puget Sound—a project he designed and built at age 18 and modified throughout the years—and asked him to not only model her home after it, but to also channel the wild, forested feel.
"The client wanted to feel like she was living in the wilderness when, in fact, her home is on a regular-size urban neighborhood lot," Jim notes.
Undeterred by the challenge, Jim strategically set the 2,400-square-foot home—dubbed the City Cabin—on the lot’s northwest corner to maximize garden space on the south and east sides. Walls of glazing frame views of the gardens that were densely landscaped with mature trees to fulfill the client’s desire for a connection to "urban wilderness."
To optimize views from every room, the home features a centrally located, open-plan kitchen-living-and-dining space flanked by two bedroom wings in a staggered layout.
A predominately timber material palette ties the architecture into the landscape, while the color scheme and furnishings draw inspiration from the client’s extensive Native American art collection.
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Since environmental conservation and a net-zero energy target were important to the homeowner, the two-bedroom, two-bath house was built from reclaimed materials and has been equipped with sustainable systems, including an 8.4-kW photovoltaic array, an air-to-water heat pump, a sedum green roof, low-energy appliances and low-flow plumbing fixtures. Passive solar strategies were also applied to optimize natural ventilation and light.
Builder/ General Contractor: Dovetail General Contractors
Structural Engineer: MCE Structural Consultants
Civil Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Landscape Design Company: Brandon Peterson (The Palm Room)
Lighting Design: DePelecyn Studio
Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Dovetail General Contractors
Mechanical Engineer: WSP
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