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photo of Delta Shelter
Photo: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

Delta Shelter

Mazama, Washington

Delta Shelter

Mazama, Washington

  • Design Principal

    Tom Kundig

This 1,000-square-foot cabin is essentially a steel-clad box on stilts that can be completely shuttered when the owner is away. The 200-square-foot footprint of the house rises above a 40-acre, 100-year flood plain adjacent to the Methow River. The verticality, coloring and raw nature of the materials used for construction directly respond to the wildness of the setting. The owner sought a compact, easy to maintain, virtually indestructible building to house himself and his friends for fun and adventure in the mountains. With an exterior of steel, the house is virtually indestructible.

The cabin is composed of three levels: the lowest level is half carport, half utility/storage room; the middle level consists of the entry, two small bedrooms and bathrooms; and the top level is one large space which includes living, dining and cooking areas. Cantilevered steel decks extend from the top and middle levels and provide space for outdoor sleeping and entertaining.

The cabin is supported by four steel columns. Floors are 3-inch by 6-inch tongue-and-groove wood car-decking, and exterior wood infill walls are clad in 16-gauge, hot-rolled steel sheets with exposed steel fasteners. Most of the structure, including the steel structure, roof panels, shutters, and stairs, was prefabricated off-site, thereby reducing on-site waste and site disruption. Due to prefabrication and the use of plywood for all interior surfaces, typical construction wastage was kept to a minimum.

I edited the cabin down to the basics: wood and metal. The landscape seen from within is much more important than how the building is seen from the landscape. Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA


  • Design Principal

    Tom Kundig

  • Interior Designer

    Debbie Kennedy



AIA National Honor Awards, Honor Award


AIA National Housing Committee Awards, Committee Award

AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Awards, Honor Award

Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards, American Architecture Award


AIA Seattle Honor Awards, Merit Award

Architectural Record: Record Houses, Record House

Residential Architect Design Awards, Grand Award



Houses: Extraordinary Living. New York: Phaidon, Jul. 2019, 206, 426, 438, 440. Book.