Chicken Point Cabin
The owners of Chicken Point Cabin and their two young children bought the waterfront property—located half an hour from their house in northern Idaho—in order to build a lakeside cabin. Their intent was to be able to use the house year-round, but especially during the summer, when the local weather can get oppressively hot. Their only directive to Tom was simple: make the house as open to the water as possible. Tom’s response to this challenge was as direct as the request: a large pivoting picture window on the waterside that literally opens up to the landscape. “Little house, big window,” in Tom’s words.
This direct and powerful gesture imposed a multitude of design and technical challenges. At first a simple counter- balance device using sandbags was proposed, then a power-generated mechanical system that treats the twenty- foot-by-thirty-foot window as a large garage door. The desire to design something that required direct action by the user, however, proved to be too irresistible. The final solution is a hand-cranked mechanical contraption employing a counterbalance principle through a set of gears, like that of a bicycle, that allow minimal input of force to pivot the six-ton steel and glass window. Although the gizmo employs sophisticated mechanical engineering, the result is not unlike the opening of a tent flap, allowing fresh air and unimpeded views to enter the cabin proper.
Location: Idaho, USA
Project Team: Tom Kundig - Steven Rainville - Debbie Kennedy
Area: 3’400.0 ft²
Photography: Benjamin Benschneider - Ündine Prohl - Mark Darley
Drawings: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum