This little cabin in the woods is no shrinking violet. Built within a 100-year flood plain in an alpine river valley, the 1,000-square-foot cabin is virtually indestructible thanks to Tom Kundig's love of physics. Principal of Seattle-based Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, the architect “loves mechanisms and how things work,” so he devised a plan for closing up the cabin from inside with a simple turn of a wheel—albeit a really big wheel. A 4-foot-diameter hand wheel on the main floor connects to a series of gears and pulleys that transfer energy from the person turning the wheel to pulleys that simultaneously control four 10-foot-by-18-foot steel shutters on the perimeter of the cabin. The hot-rolled steel panels protect copious glazing when the cabin is unoccupied or the weather gets ugly. “It's fascinating to be able to move really heavy pieces with a little manual force,” says Kundig of his low-tech solution.