Houses and cabins in the snow
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Houses in the snow, where the winter and its charm can be savored

A selection of cozy comfortable architecture for nestling among forests and mountains

Olson Kundig Architects

Houses and cabins in the snow
By Editorial Staff -

The warmth of a burning hearth, wood floors, and large expanses of glass welcoming in nature and embracing the landscape, with the impression of being able to plunge into a white snow sea. It's welcoming cozy settings in close contact with natural elements that we feel beckon us when winter begins. THE PLAN has decided to narrate four projects by the architecture studio Olson Kundig responding to this yearning for the mountains, four snow-enveloped houses standing as inspiration for our homes and travels: Analog House in Truckee, California, Vermont Cabin in Stowe, Vermont, Studhorse in Washington, and Teton House, Wyoming.



Analog House - Olson Kundig © Joe Fletcher, courtesy of Olson Kundig

A house whose identity blends and camouflages with the forest undergrowth, carefully modelled to conserve the century-old pines towering around it ‒ unique examples standing as a firm departure point for the design. All the sections of Analog House are connected with its encompassing environment, which seamlessly infiltrates and exits its internal spaces. This is true for light too ‒ the unquestionable star, thanks also to the numerous glazed expanses.

The interiors feature a rhythmic alternation between concrete and steel. Once through the entrance, visitors are surprised by the staircase wall: this is topped by a ribbon of skylight windows, endowing the settings below with a unique atmosphere. The dining room lights hang from custom-bent steel frames artfully designed to conceal the electricity cables. The fireplace embodies the same approach, and this connects the kitchen and the external portico, generating continuity between indoors and out.


Analog House - Olson Kundig © Joe Fletcher, courtesy of Olson Kundig

The Forest Hall also makes a striking impression with its glass walls providing great views of the surrounding wood. For the living room too the designers opted for a frame of skylight windows to pervade the space with an aura of natural light. Instead, a cantilever steel roof shelters the external patio from above. The master bedroom includes a cozy lounge marking off the night area from the bathroom, which looks out onto a small private courtyard.

The Treehouse is likewise enchanting. This small three-storey tower rises above the main volume of the house, and accommodates bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms for guests as well as a panoramic terrace looking towards the Northstar ski resort. Sturdy steel cladding ensures privacy on the home's north elevation facing the road, while the other sides are fitted with expanses of glass so as to ensure the greatest contact with the adjacent forest.


>>> Cabins in the wood: a collection of designs for eco-friendly vacationing 



Vermont Cabin - Olson Kundig © Aaron Leitz, courtesy of Olson Kundig

Standing among Vermont's white pines and maples is Vermont Cabin, a compact mountain lodge for a family that has lived in these wooded areas for generations. The abode has been conceived to be fully self-sufficient and the choice in materials ‒ inspired by the surrounding nature ‒ has settled on timber, concrete and steel.

The house develops on three levels. The lowest of these accommodates the garage, which also acts as a games room; connected to this is a single bedroom with bathroom. The next floor comprises the main entrance, two bedrooms and a bathroom, while the entire top floor is a spacious day zone. It is no coincidence that the designers opted to set the living area on the highest floor since the view of the Green Mountains to the west and the Worcester Range to the east can be fully enjoyed from here.


Vermont Cabin - Olson Kundig © Aaron Leitz, courtesy of Olson Kundig

The decision to leave materials in their natural state is in line with the architects' concept: they endeavored to create a home that was as simple as possible, one conveying the idea of being self-built. The external steel cladding is extremely weather resistant, as is the outdoor staircase that enables entrance on two floors ‒ the bottom and middle ones. The interiors all show exposed timber beam ceilings, reiterating the emphasis on minimal design, while concrete has been used for some of the kitchen and bathroom features.



Studhorse - Olson Kundig © Benjamin Benschneider, courtesy of Olson Kundig

Located in the remote Methow Valley, Studhorse responds to the clients' desire to experiment and interact with the immediate environment throughout the year, turning to its tradition of pitching tents around a campfire: the various parts of the property are in fact separate blocks circling a central pavilion with a family room and kitchen.

Four small detached units are arranged around a central courtyard and a swimming pool, designed so as to naturally frame the long glacial valley and the nearby Studhorse Ridge and Pearrygin Lake.


Studhorse - Olson Kundig © Benjamin Benschneider, courtesy of Olson Kundig

The communal areas ‒ including the living room, kitchen and bar ‒ are grouped in the main block, while the more private spaces ‒ the master bedroom and the children's room ‒ are more secluded, in another unit. The same goes for the guest bedrooms, which are separate to enable self-contained use. A sauna is housed in another building and this enjoys a stunning view of the valley below.

In this case too, materials withstanding challenging weather and changes in season have been chosen, these being mainly steel, glass and wood. This latter was repurposed from an old barn in nearby Spokane, and its varigated tones reveal its lengthy history.


>>> From snow-capped mountains to the deep blue of the Aegean Sea: Bodrum Loft, a residence-hotel by Tabanlioğlu Architects



Teton House - Olson Kundig © Matthew Millman, courtesy of Olson Kundig

Teton House is an authentic mountain home, able to adapt to the extremely varied climate of Jackson Hole with its intense temperature range. In this case, the clients wanted a home capable of interacting with the surrounding landscape, while also remaining detached in the sense of providing the option to be closed up and isolated during the periods when nobody would be there or during the long (and frequent) snowstorms. The result is a resilient adaptable home that can be opened up or closed off in response to weather conditions in the Jackson Hole mountains.

The floor-to-ceiling glazing on the main floor provides a breathtaking view of the mountains and valley, which can be reached directly thanks to ski facilities connecting the house to the neighboring ski areas. The windows are fitted with an external wooden shuttering system, worked with hand cranks. Guests are accommodated in a separate unit containing a bathroom, a kitchenette and a space serving both as lounge and bedroom.


Teton House - Olson Kundig © Matthew Millman, courtesy of Olson Kundig

The interiors are all finished in oak, fir and walnut and create a unique and warm atmosphere with their color nuances. The main living spaces are found on the ground floor, with a day zone and combined kitchen and dining room opening onto an internal courtyard. The same level also houses an additional guest bedroom and the master bedroom, while three further bedrooms are located on the floor above. Instead, the lower level hosts a multimedia room, wine cellar and a bicycle garage.


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Architect: Olson Kundig

Location: Truckee, California
Completion: 2019
Client and Collaborating Architect: Greg Faulkner / Faulkner Architects
Gross Floor Area: 504 m2
General Contractor: Rickenbach Development and Construction
Civil Engineer: Shaw Engineering
Structural Engineer: CFBR Structural Group
Mechanical Engineer: Rock Point Engineering
Landscape: Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture
Lighting: Niteo
Interior design: LesaFaulkner / Faulkner Architects
Photography by Joe Fletcher, courtesy of Olson Kundig

: Stowe, Vermont
Completion: 2018
Gross Floor Area: 209 m2
General Contractor: Gristmill Builders
Civil Engineer: Grenier Engineering
Structural Engineer: Silman
Landscape: AmblerDesign Architect
Photography by Aaron Leitz, courtesy of Olson Kundig

 Winthrop, Washington
Completion: 2012
Gross Floor Area: 372 m2
General Contractor: Dowbuilt
Structural Engineer: MCE Structural Consultants
Photography by Benjamin Benschneider, courtesy of Olson Kundig

 Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Completion: 2018
Gross Floor Area: 870 m2
General Contractor: Tim Reiser
Civil Engineer: Jorgensen
Mechanical Engineer: WSP
Structural Engineer: KL&A
Landscape: Agrostis, Architect
Photography by Matthew Millman, courtesy of Olson Kundig

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