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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Half Dose #39: Rolling Huts

One of the recipients of this year's AIA Seattle Honor Awards is the aptly-named Rolling Huts by the critic's darlings, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.


The firm's embrace and occasional forays into the industrial is clearly evident here, with their steel wheels, frame and less-than-polished surfaces.


The architects responded to local restrictions that restricted cabins (a building "type" this office appears to produce almost constantly), "hit[ting] upon the idea of placing the structures on wheels, effectively making the huts into RVs."


AIA Seattle praised the project for its playfulness, "a willingness to question local idiomatic practice, [and being] raw, edgy, unafraid of the challenging aspects of nature." The local organization hits on the idea that "the user cannot escape the fact that the buildings impose on the landscape, with their steel wheels and tentative siting. These simple structures engage the spiritual question of our place in the landscape."


Nevertheless the interiors are finished in an apparently minimal, clean, and well-appointed manner that makes the experience less than "roughing it," as one might expect from the notion of a hard-edged, industrial-like cabin on steel wheels.


:: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
:: AIA Seattle Honor Awards (Rolling Huts image gallery)


  1. The first point of failure with these will be the concave joint in the roof. Rot will set in and they'll be in the dump in few years. Neat looking, though!

  2. These definately owe something to Hedjuk's Masques.

  3. help me understand this, j.h.

    did they find a way of building in an area where building was restricted? are we celebrating that?

    I probably got this wrong

  4. hoopla - I'm guessing the concave joint has a gutter and sheds water to the side, so rot might not be an issue...for the near future, at least.

    seier+seier - You have a good point, though from the appearance of the site in the photos -- a large clearing with lots and lots of dirt -- I'm not sure why there is a restriction on the immediate site. But if that site condition was a product of the construction of these cabins -- a condition that the restriction would probably be intended to avoid -- then that's another thing, a problem to be sure. While I'm aware of site selection as an important part of sustainable architecture and planning, these huts have the advantage of "treading lightly" on the land they occupy. It's a difficult issue that I can only touch upon here, and is one complicated if we bring in the ethics of architects. The house in the photo of the second-to-last photo illustrates what is a more typical and harmful approach, of inserting a large residence in a sensitive area. How these two relate is a good thing to consider.

  5. These look nice, but if you look closely (and at the plans on the AIA link)there's no plumbing...the kitchenette has only a mini fridge and microwave. Don't people in the NW brush their teeth and use the toilet?

  6. Anonymous - One need not look closely, as with the cabins raised it's more than apparent that there aren't any pipes. Where would the water come from? Where would it go?! I'm guessing that's why these are called cabins, because of a lack of plumbing and electricity...unless there's solar panels on the roof.

  7. The hut would make a great clubhouse for my son and his friends.

  8. If I remember correctly from the AIA awards, these cabins are to be used for overnight visitors to the owners own much larger cabin. I'm sure that anyone staying in these cabins can handle the lack of plumbing when there is a house quite near by.

    I think the point of failure is actually going to be the wheels. They don't technically operate, and even if they did... a few wet springs and they'll have sunk too far into the mud to ever move again!


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