Contemporary urban refuge has the most amazing Seattle skyline views


This contemporary urban refuge was designed by Olson Kundig Architects, perched on Queen Anne Hill overlooking downtown Seattle and Puget Sound, Washington. Nestled on a steeply sloping site, the structure features a massive retractable wall of glass that provides 180-degree views of the urban landscape below.

A two-story “guillotine” window wall physically opens this dwelling to sweeping skyline views with the help of a hand-cranked wheel and three large counterweights. This sense of openness at the back of the home is juxtaposed against the respectful street scale at the front, where an intimate courtyard garden frames the entrance.

DESIGN DETAILS: ARCHITECT Olson Kundig CONTRACTOR Schuchart/Dow Construction STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Monte Clark Engineering CIVIL ENGINEER Coughlin Porter Lundeen LANDSCAPE David Ohashi Landscape Services LIGHTING O- LLC GIZMO ENGINEER KB Architectural Services


Contrasts abound in this 6,050-square-foot dwelling, with industrial architectural details including exposed, unfinished steel beams and plywood casework offsetting vintage interior furnishings and a custom-built, reclaimed fir dining table. Much like the outgoing yet reserved owner couple, this contemporary urban refuge represents a delicate balancing act: between transparency and refuge, spare industrial modernity, and inviting warmth.


What We Love: The exterior of this home appears unassuming from the street while being transparent yet private — courtyard garden views from the front and skyline views from the back. A curve in the roof creates a unique scale to this home, where the entryway is more intimate and the volume increases once you are inside. Overall, the architects were successful in balancing transparency with the owner’s desire for a sense of refuge from their urban environment.

Tell Us: What are your overall impressions of the architectural details of this home? Let us know in the Comments below! 

Note: Have a look at another fantastic home tour that we have featured here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of the architects of this project, Olson Kundig: Steel and reclaimed barn wood retreat boasts views of Cascade mountains.


Exterior materials include exposed concrete, glass, and weathered metal siding, which are brought into the interiors.


Above: A barrel-vaulted roof defines the great room, which showcases a series of five perforated steel tube pendant lights from the Tom Kundig Collection.


Above: A custom fabricated dining table is composed of reclaimed fir.




Above: a show-stopping hand-crank ‘guillotine’ wall gizmo operates these massive high-performance windows in the great room of this urban refuge.



Interior architectural finishes were intentionally left raw for an industrial aesthetic. This includes lightly buffed plywood on custom casework and concrete flooring. Welds and shop markings on the exposed steel beams remain, keeping with the owners’ request for an unpolished design.


Warm, vintage furnishings and layers of soft textures help to soften the edge of the industrial interior finishes.



Above: A massive cabinet with a hemmed steel edge pulls out to reveal concealed wine storage.


Above: A dramatically cantilevered third-floor master bedroom features floor-to-ceiling windows that frame views of downtown Seattle and Elliot Bay.




Above: The unique sloping roof sets into the landscape making this large house appear modest tucked in between its traditional neighbors lining the old and prominent street. The double-curved geometry roof structure was custom fabricated by Spearhead in Canada, while the high-performance windows were fabricated by Brombal in Italy.




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16 days ago

the house is a bit of an eyesore but the views are really nice! it’s hard to believe that the owner actually requested this stuff. the architects did a great job of making a 6,000 sf house not look like a 6,000 sf house.

7 days ago
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How so? It’s ridiculously cool and avante-garde. It looks like you can shoot a highly successful TV show there!

John L
15 days ago