'sawmill' is an off-grid canyon retreat made from salvaged and recycled materials
 

'sawmill' is an off-grid canyon retreat made from salvaged and recycled materials

seattle-based design practice olson kundig has completed a family retreat in the harsh high desert of california. located in a remote area of tehachapi, a city in the mountains north of los angeles, the house is titled ‘sawmill’ — an industrial name that references the valley’s historic mining, ranching, and logging industries. ‘recognizing this past exploitation of the site, the homeowners wanted their house to give back to the land, rather than take from it,’ say the architects.

olson kundig sawmill
the family retreat is located in the harsh high desert of california
image by kevin scott / olson kundig | main image by gabe border

 

 

olson kundig, led by design principal tom kundig, carefully sited the house so as not to disturb the fragile landscape. the brief from the client called for a self-sufficient dwelling that maximized relationships between architecture and nature, as well as among family members. the result is a net-zero home that utilizes sustainable strategies and reclaimed materials, while operating completely off grid.

olson kundig sawmill
the design references the valley’s historic mining, ranching, and logging industries
image by kevin scott / olson kundig

 

 

‘sawmill’ comprises three wings with the centrally positioned living area articulated around a central hearth. here, a 12×26-foot (3.7×7.9m) window wall retracts with the turn of a wheel, embracing the outdoor patio as the house’s fourth wing. ‘the design approach was driven by a scavenger mentality, seeking always to do more with less, including using salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible,’ explains olson kundig.

olson kundig sawmill
salvaged and recycled materials have been used whenever possible
image by gabe border

olson kundig sawmill
the net-zero home utilizes sustainable design strategies
image by gabe border

olson kundig sawmill
the building comprises three connected wings
image by gabe border

olson kundig sawmill
the residence is made from durable materials that can withstand the region’s harsh climate
image by gabe border

olson kundig sawmill
living space is arranged around the home’s centrally positioned hearth
image by kevin scott / olson kundig

olson kundig sawmill
the hearth’s glass walls can be retracted
images by kevin scott / olson kundig

olson kundig sawmill
the expansive window wall retracts with the turn of a wheel
image by kevin scott / olson kundig

olson kundig sawmill
when open, the home embraces the outdoor patio as the house’s fourth wing
image by kevin scott / olson kundig

olson kundig sawmill
the shared living space is designed to bring the family together
image by gabe border

olson kundig sawmill
the dwelling is located in tehachapi, a city in the mountains north of los angeles
image by kevin scott / olson kundig

  • Fantastic house – I would love to get feedback on how they were able to build an off-the-grid house in California, what with our terrible tied-to-the-grid legislation..

    Chris Carlton says:
  • I see very little of the recycled materials. The cinder blocks are new, the concrete is new, the roofing looks new. Maybe the structural steel was recycled but that would have to be inspected and certified before use. The window units? Maybe some of the furnishings and interior treatments were recycled. What were the zoning requirements, required inspections?
    If this is off-grid, how are they generating power for the lighting and other electrical needs? I don’t see any solar panels.
    Instead of writing a fluff piece to showcase the design, how about backing up the claims with more details, especially when the claims are so broad and high minded.

    Bob Schneider says:
  • Bob Schneider, here is more detailed information about the project that answers most of your questions
    https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/sawmill_s

    Wolf says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
LOG IN
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

×
keep up with our daily and weekly stories
492,661 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample