This cedar-clad cantilevered cabin by Heliotrope was constructed with minimum site disturbance

Situated on Orcas Island, which is a part of an archipelago called San Juan islands, is the Buck Mountain Cabin. The beautiful cedar-clad cabin was built by embracing the original site and its conditions, and by ensuring that minimal disturbance was caused to it. A steep grade and a narrow clearing created by a rock outcropping were a few of the challenges faced by the architects, but they encouraged the clients to focus on these features as they are unique to San Juan.

Designer: Heliotrope

The grassy basalt-rock outcroppings set within a Douglas fir and Pacific madrone forest were used to enhance and elevate the cabin. The east side of the 1527 square feet cabin is anchored to an outcrop, while the west side interestingly cantilevers over the entire site, almost 22 feet above the ground, and provides beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. The large trees around the site weren’t torn down which also ensured that the site was minimally disturbed. The addition of cantilevers, and point-load wooden columns with small footings helped this cause as well.

“Rather than widen the clearing to expand western views, we embraced the narrow opening – compressing it further through program placement,” the studio said. “This compression amplifies the view while providing the feeling that one is within the forest itself.”

The two-story home features a cedar cladding which has a greyish hue, along with soffits sheathed in honey-colored wood. The upper level houses a bedroom, and bathroom, as well as a public area. A ‘secure pantry’ is included in the upper level as well, in case the owners rent out the cabin. The lower level hosts another bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen and dining area are placed in a long room, that is covered by glazed pocket doors on both sides. Large protective overhangs and south-facing clearstory windows allow sunlight to generously stream in, especially during winter.

There is a stunning patio that floats over the site and can be accessed via a glass door. It’s great to lounge about in, and soak up some sun! All the bedrooms and bathrooms have been gifted with exquisite views as well. Once you enter them, you feel as if you’ve stepped deep into the forest.

“These spaces take advantage of a north-south cross slope, with views out to the hillside, it’s reflected light lending a warm quality to these more intimate spaces,” said the studio.

The entire home was constructed using simple materials – whether the interiors or the exterior. Concrete flooring, sheetrock walls, black granite countertops, black-stained oak cabinetry, and metal paneling run through the home. “The home needed to be economical, durable, and weather well over time. Toward that end, we avoided precious or complicated materials and systems and focused on simple utility, which harmonized well with the overall aesthetic,” the studio concluded.