Outpost / OSKA Architects

Architects: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
Location: Central Idaho,
Principal in Charge: Tom Kundig
Year: 2007
Photographs: Tim Bies/Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects

Set in the remote and harsh high desert landscape of Idaho, Outpost is a residence and studio/workshop for making and displaying art. An important aspect of the complex is the protected “paradise garden,” which is separated from the wild landscape by thick concrete walls. The materials used in the structure, including concrete block, car-decking, and plywood, require little or no maintenance, and are capable of withstanding the extreme weather that characterize the desert’s four seasons.

Cite: "Outpost / OSKA Architects" 08 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=22607>
  • jubair Sideeque

    Nice and Neat.
    I don’t think the fascination in viewing desert will last for a life time. And i think this is not a responsive way climatologically to the site.

  • idot


  • AMR

    Perhaps someone with intimate knowledge of US building codes could tell me why there are fire sprinklers in a single residential house?

    I do like it, there is a certain honesty about it. I don’t I would ever tire of that view……the colours would change by the hour

  • guy

    Nice and neat – i agree.

    I think it has a very appropriate balance of ‘raw’ materials and comfort.
    But how did they ever get permission to build in such a beautiful landscape, thats the real achievement, assuming you like the building.

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    A while ago this project was featured in the New York Times and I downloaded and studied the photographs then. Somes spaces are omitted from these images that were included in the Times, and that is a pity. It is absolutely worth seeing the ground floor spaces, close up images of the exterior, and most importantly the walled garden.

    I consider this a seminal work of American architecture. The concept of self-contained living on the plains is not new (think Conestoga) . However, this very American idea is here retooled using means that are appropriately simple, elegant, and complete.

    The program is a live and work space for a fine artist. Everything necessary is at hand eliminating the need to focus on anything else but making art without being trapped in a studio all day and night.

    Ted Kundig must have really worked through process with his client. It is so easy to imagine how a day unfolds here, broken up between sleeping, working, eating, and respite. Spaces are solitary and contemplative where they need to be, most notably in the Arab or Paradise Garden and studio, and then opening up to these unbelievable and inspirational views in the great public room.

    It is fascinating his how OSKA have connected the self-contained covered wagon idea (I did not say self sufficient) to the modernist dream of “a machine for living in the garden”. This interpretation takes the idea of living in such a machine out of the abstract and puts it very squarely in terms of process. Everything here is process; how does the day unfold and how does each element contribute to the output of this -factory-.

    Recently I downloaded Vincent Scully’s lecture on Philip Johnson from Yale University on iTunes U. (If you haven’t heard these lectures they are a free and an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy an experience that would otherwise be closed to most of us. You need an iPod but that costs rather less than an education at Yale.)

    There is an interesting comparison to be drawn between Johnson’s glass house and this house. The reason I have referred to -living- in the abstract is that Johnson’s masterpiece is all about solitude and the contemplation of art. Not much else could really happen there. This is living a life of letters, very much the essence of the 19th century man in 20th century trappings.

    Kundig has brilliantly taken many of the same ideas and fused them both to the past and present. The perimeter of the public garden is defined by the walls of the valley. Here the glass house sits raised atop another structure that just happens to be the family store. The studios have their own logic and rhythm that is connected to contemplation and working. Johnson’s guest house, the most likely place to really sleep well in New Canaan, is here moved topside and transformed into private quarters for the owner.

    Unfortunately these photographs do not do justice to the feature that gives this project its real shine. The main structure viewed directly is a perfect cube, a geometric solid from which the fenestration has been very precisely incised. From the side it is a perfect rectangle. Disciples of the Golden Section will find this program relentlessly perfect in its pursuit of proportion.

    Proportion and appropriateness seem to have been the twin engines of making this building. There is absolutely no ostentation or artifice in this construction. The materials are simple and honest while being used with great bravado and force. Indeed those are the values that give this structure its strong sense of place.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  • Cameron

    I was about to communicate my own observations of this project until I read Terry Glenn Phipps’s views/critique above. As always his comments are particularly discerning and a pleasure to acknowledge.

  • http://salpickering.wordpress.com salpickering

    The building sits as one with the surroundings. I would have liked to have seen more photographs from different perspectives. I have no more to say, as Terry Glenn Phipps’s fine words have done a wonderful summary in every way.

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  • julio ramirez bruna

    if you have this sort of site, the least you can do is to dedicate the building to the surroundings, and the inhabitation that is going to happen with it, the thickness of the glass or the wall can be definetely adjusted to mantain the heat inside the building.
    I found it so simple. Beautiful insides or outsides, these architects make outsides, not insides, AWESOME PROJECT.
    Any glass box cannot be compared to Johnson, or Mies , to be more accurate… but everything is different, not the 40′s not german , is just a dinner table in the dessert.
    A sensitives answer to the brief, without the obvious architectural concepts or redundant speeches.

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  • http://www.ft3arc.com Fino

    Wonderful. Just….wonderful and beautifully crafted.

    that is all.

  • Gon

    Incredible views from the inside! :O

  • angel


  • yuur

    muy noble el espacio interior, no dialoga nada con el contexto mas si algo con la tectura del material,trata de estar ahi como una nueva referencia para un nuevo contexto del las proximas edificaciones.
    muy personal si me gusta.

  • harry

    This a really marvelous design,this is a house everbody want’s to live in.

  • J Bryar

    Sorry but I hate it.

    Aboriginal architecture in this part of the country gets what this house lacks, which is an appreciation of the reality of desert life.

    The first requirement is the management of ambient light, which is INTENSE in the desert. This house would heat up like an easy bake oven in the summer. It is not enough to block direct sunlight, but in this environment reflected light would be sufficient to turn up the roasting oven in that top floor. Simply brutal.

    Furthermore, one needs to deal with the wind in the high desert, particularly in the winter. The top floor will get hammered both by the direct wind coming in unimpeded at that level plus whatever is deflected by the lower wall.

    This is another case of dramatic design at the expense of functionality.

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  • mike

    in about 5 years time people will start to realise how good this house is, the materials, relationship to context, scale, detailing, it’s very very good….

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