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This Modern Mountain Retreat in Washington Is Like a Luxury Campground—But With Buildings

The contemporary compound was designed as a vacation home and features four separate cabins. 

There’s glamping, and then there’s turning your home into an actual campsite. And an ultra-contemporary one, at that.  

For this rural vacation retreat in Winthrop, Wash., the architects at Olson Kundig looked to the state’s incredibly scenic Methow Valley for inspiration. The clients, a family of self-proclaimed adventurists, requested a holiday home that could withstand every season and force its residents to interact with the mountainous environment despite the elements. The result for design principal Tom Kundig was a spirited compound that has structures scattered around a central courtyard and pool, just like one would pitch their tent around a fire pit. In a way, it feels a bit like camping—only way cooler. 

Studhorse Olson Kundig
Each of the four structures was composed of steel, glass and wood to withstand the elements Benjamin Benschneide

“In this location, a house that’s all about adventure is one that forces you to be outside and engage actively with the seasons,” explains Kundig. “You have to go outside to get inside. So the house has what some might call inconveniences, but the clients and I see them as terrific, unforgettable moments.” Spread across a 20-acre site, the aptly named Studhorse project is set against the glacial Studhorse Ridge and comprises a cluster of four unattached cabins.

The main house is where you’ll find communal areas, including a family room, kitchen and bar. In a more private and secluded second building are the primary bedroom, children’s bedrooms and a den. Guest accommodations are nearby in a third structure, and in the fourth, there’s a timber-lined sauna overlooking the valley.  

Studhorse Olson Kundig
The compound is broken up into communal spaces and private buildings for residents and guests Benjamin Benschneide

“The materials are tough on the outside because of the high-desert climate, but the inside is cozy,” adds Kundig. “It’s like getting into a sleeping bag—protected, warm, and dry.” For the exterior, the architects mainly used steel and glass knowing that it would hold up to the area’s historically hot summers and heavy snow in the winter. Salvaged wood from an old barn near Spokane was chosen for the siding, with the hope that it would weather over time and become more muted in appearance, disappearing into the landscape.  

“Second homes are about adventure, and they are the homes that leave the most indelible memories. The best way to do that is to make them unconventional,” says Kundig. We couldn’t agree more.

Click here to see all the photos of Studhorse.

Benjamin Benschneide

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