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Studhorse designed by Olson Kundig Architects, The house is composed of four separate detached structures surrounding a central courtyard. Each structure is oriented toward different elements in the landscape, such as nearby Studhorse Ridge and Pearrygin Lake. The family room, kitchen and bar are grouped together in the main building. Private areas — the master bedroom, kids’ bedroom and den — are in an adjacent structure. Guest rooms are in another structure and isolated to allow for independent use.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-03-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x410 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

“Amazing. The use of modest materials are admirable in this house; concrete floor, concrete fireplace, OSB on the ceiling – gorgeous place. There are less historical references. Less like things we have seen before. This is different. The site plan really drives this. The complex relations between the three parts is exciting but the courtyard locks it into place.” – Jury Comments/AIA Housing Awards

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-05-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x569 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Constructed mostly of steel and glass, “Studhorse,” designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, is a retreat comprised of five buildings, a swimming pool, hot tub, and an exterior concrete courtyard. Located in Winthrop, Washington, where winter temperatures can hit single digits and summers reach the high 90s with mosquitoes and bees, the Schuchart/Dow construction crew endured extreme conditions to bring this design to life within the original thirteen-month timeframe, using 90% local subcontractors.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-06-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x569 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-10-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x568 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

The amenities in Studhorse are endless. A geothermal mechanical system has radiant floor heat at the main building and guest building suite, with forced air in the family bedroom and media room building. The heating system can heat or cool the slabs depending on weather and clients’ desires. The heating, air conditioning, and pool and spa can be adjusted remotely. Several gizmos were engineered, including motorized steel privacy panels on the outside of the building, a hydraulic-screw driven motorized cabana wet bar wall designed to tilt open and a manually operated 14-foot wide wall that pivots open to view outdoor movies on a flat screen television.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-15-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x543 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Carpenters used reclaimed wood siding from a barn in Spokane and the rust process was initiated on the steel siding for a richer look. The result is a beautiful, secluded retreat that shows the best in Schuchart/Dow teamwork, expertise and perseverance.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-17-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x569 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Olson Kundig Architects:

Set in the remote Methow Valley, Studhorse responds to the clients’ desire to experience and engage the surrounding environment throughout all four seasons. Referencing the tradition of circling wagons, the buildings—four small, unattached structures—are scattered around a central courtyard and pool. The 20-acre site is nestled in the northern portion of the 60 mile long glacial valley and the buildings are arranged to frame carefully composed views of the surrounding Studhorse Ridge and Pearrygin Lake.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-21-Benjamin-Benschneider-845x1200 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Traditional boundaries between the built structure and its surroundings are purposefully blurred, so that the family can experience the site and nature. With the four buildings oriented to open to the central courtyard, the design is oriented toward family life and entertaining.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-27-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x883 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Public areas, including the family room, kitchen and bar are grouped together in the common area pavilion. Private areas—the master bedroom, kids’ bedroom, and den—are more secluded in an adjacent building. Guest rooms are part of the master plan composition of buildings but isolated to allow for independent use. The sauna sits removed from the other buildings with a privately framed view looking out over the valley below.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-40-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x985 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Tough and low maintenance building materials, mostly steel and glass, were utilized to stand up to the equally tough environmental conditions—from hot, fire-prone summers to snowy winters. Wood siding used throughout the project was salvaged from an old barn in the valley. The varying tones of the wood reveal its history and use. Over time as the wood and steel weather, the home will become more and more muted in appearance, blending into the landscape.

Studhorse-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-56-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x506 Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Project Data:

Project name: Studhorse
Location: Winthrop, Washington, United States
Coordinates: 48.468789, -120.127361

  • Type By Characteristic: Green & Sustainable House, Holiday House, Luxury House
  • Type By Site: Mountain House, Hill House
  • Type By Size: Medium House – (201 sqm – 450 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Steel House

Project Area: approx 3,000 sq.ft / 270 sqm
Site Area: 20-acre
Status: Completed
Completion Year: 2014


  • 2015 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA Housing Awards – Category One: One-and Two-Family Custom Residences

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Olson Kundig Architects – 159 South Jackson Street, Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98104 United States
Design Principal: Tom Kundig
Project Manager: Mark Olthoff
Interior Designer: Debbie Kennedy
Staff: Gus Lynch
Structural Engineer: MCE Structural Consultants
General Contractor: Schuchart Dow Construction
Text Description: © Courtesy of Olson Kundig Architects, Schuchart Dow Construction, AIA Housing Awards
Images: © Olson Kundig Architects, Benjamin Benschneider

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Studhorse / Olson Kundig Architects
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