Shadowboxx sits in a natural clearing created by the strong winds that buffet the wild and beautiful San Juan Islands. It’s a spot that architect Tom Kundig, principal at Olson Kundig Architects, calls “a place of big natural forces.” And his materials respond accordingly. Reclaimed scaffolding planks are used on Shadowboxx’s ceiling, antique oak is used on the floor, and the house is clad in corrugated roofing meant to weather and rust with time. On the east side of the house sits a semi-detached space: a bath house topped by a 16-foot-by-20-foot roof that opens “like a cigar box at the push of a button,” Kundig says.
Why in the world would anyone want an operable roof? “Part of what I explore is how far it’s possible to go in terms of opening up a building to the outside, the way that Japanese buildings do, so the next logical step was the roof,” says Kundig, who’s no stranger to outrageous feats of craft and engineering. “The client loves to have the ability to completely open up her home to the outdoors,” says Kundig. “She wanted, literally, to embrace the sun, the snow, and the rain,” he adds. “A bath house is the perfect place to do that.” For its audacity, playfulness, technical prowess, and out-of-the-box thinking, Shadowboxx was given a special focus award for its operable roof.