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Steel Clad 350 Sq. Ft. Modern Cabin on Stilts with Shutters

Check out this 350 sq. ft. low-maintenance and virtually indestructible modern cabin on stilts with steel shutters.

The owner’s hired Olson Kundig Architects to build a weekend cabin that could provide them with a rural retreat during their get-aways to Washington’s Olympic National Park. Since the cabin would be left uninhabited for weeks at a time steel shutters were used to completely enclose and secure the cabin when the owners are away.

As you walk up the stairs to the front door and through a small entry way you will see the bathroom on the left and straight ahead the main living space. The living room is very spacious and open with a dining area and compact kitchen. There is a ladder that leads up to the sleeping loft. The walls, floors and ceilings are lined in timber panels.

A large overhanging roof provides the balcony and windows shade from the natural sunlight. Exterior panels open and close using a custom steel rod with hardware that was originally designed for large barn doors. These steel panels can be opened using a mechanical system of gears, drive shafts and U-joints, which are set into motion by turning a wheel.

It was built using steel and structural insulated panels (SIPs). Most of the cabin was prefabricated off site to help preserve the natural landscaping.

The entire cabin is up on stilts to protect it from occasional floods. The cantilevered roof gives solar shading while protecting the structure from strong storms.

Modern Cabin on Stilts with Steel Shutters


Images: Benjamin Benschneider









Images: Benjamin Benschneider

I love the see-through mesh balcony that looks out towards the river. This modern cabin seems to be great for full time simple living. What do you think? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


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Andrea has lived simply in small spaces for more than 7 years and enjoys sharing her space saving (and space multiplying) tips from experience.

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{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Les August 15, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Could you be locked in? I am design orientated and would need the slider to have a secondary purpose…a draw bridge over a water feature…a wood interior to soften the steel slider and have the steel slider come in two parts such as a lower walk way and an upper awning…a slide away to the roof top …just worries me that it could be accessed and locked while I was inside…

    • Avatar Patricia Schneider September 17, 2015, 10:59 pm

      No, because the front door is on the other side of the building and you would control locking and unlocking that, so there is no way to be locked in.

  • Avatar Bruce Pritchett August 15, 2014, 1:13 pm

    I really like this, and like the way you can “close it up” at nighttime if you want more privacy or when you aren’t there. I wonder if high winds can create a problem with the big “shutter” hanging out there when it’s opened. Very cool, though.

  • Avatar Gwen Rosewater August 15, 2014, 1:34 pm

    I love the way it looks, but I am another who wonders about that big metal shutter. I would imagine it would be very noisy when the wind hits it.

  • Avatar Sharl August 15, 2014, 1:46 pm

    I like the idea of steel shutters but I think the ‘slide out to nowhere’ should have been given a LOT more thought before implementation. The rest of the design is top notch. Love it!

  • Avatar lindy August 15, 2014, 2:15 pm

    I love the inside– a stairway to the loft is great. Don’t think I would like the big metal shutter though. Can it be closed from the inside because of bad weather? Can people still be inside when it is closed? Seems like a folding down porch roof might work along with a folding UP deck? How is it locked? Too many questions, LOL

  • Avatar James August 15, 2014, 4:09 pm

    Looks like a giant sail. I think I would use a roll up security door.

  • Avatar Mike Holliday August 15, 2014, 4:43 pm

    I love the basic concept except I was wondering about possible damage to sliding unit if a sudden straight line wind occured. Love the simplicity!

  • Avatar T August 15, 2014, 6:41 pm

    This one is nice but the Delta Shelter has a bit more space for a family, it still has a similar construction though I have never seen the metal shutters sticking out like that. It seems like it’s gonna fall off.

  • Avatar Rue August 15, 2014, 9:53 pm

    “Huge metal sail” was my first thought too. “Nice inside, shame about the outside” was the next.

    I like the minimal, clean look of the modern interiors, but the modern category seems to have a definite problem with “innovative” design trumping actual practical use.

  • Avatar Brian August 16, 2014, 7:44 am

    I love the idea of the sliding barn doors for security purposes. However, I would change the large, main door so that it was split down the middle and slid apart. That way there would be less “door” cantilevered out on each side of the structure acting like sails. I think it would help the structure feel more balanced, and visually lighten it’s presence in the landscape as well.

  • Avatar Amy August 22, 2014, 5:14 pm

    This is my favorite tiny house so far. 🙂 Great design!

    • Avatar Alex August 22, 2014, 5:43 pm

      Cool! Glad you liked it Amy- thanks!

    • Avatar Richard L April 14, 2015, 8:39 pm

      Me too! Love it!

      How can I buy plans? Also, any ideas on cost?



  • Avatar Norm Landes October 21, 2014, 1:13 am

    I noticed that you have not responded to the comments on your “huge metal sail.” Well, can you defend it? Otherwise, nice design. But what about it? Have you experienced any strong gusts? What happened?

    Thanks for showing us your work. Keep up the designing.

    Norm L

  • Avatar Diane December 17, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Wow – I think, after months of searching, I have found the home I want to build! I love everything about it – it’s modern, yet rustic and absolutely pleasing to my eye. I live in Colorado and would build it in the foothills of the rockies – I would imagine I would have to think about snow load. Where can I purchase the plans? LOVELY

  • Avatar Virginia Vajdos September 17, 2015, 4:04 pm

    Approximate price, please. I’m in Western Washingtion/ Seattle area.
    Also will have rural area in south Texas outside of San Antonio.

    How might finishing materials reduce price?

    Thanks, just beautiful especially for natural areas /high security.

  • Avatar Kristina H Nadreau September 17, 2015, 6:09 pm

    I love the basic design and finishes. I would change the big slider to a hurricane shutter roll down, for issues of cost and function. I like the way the other apertures button up. minimalism at its finest…..

  • Avatar Mary Jo Allen September 25, 2015, 2:27 pm

    Please may I know the price of building this wonderful tiny square house? I have found the one!

    Thank you.

  • Avatar Dusty Dannemiller September 29, 2015, 11:55 am

    Seems like a wasted feature having it hang off the side… I would have lowed the cover draw bridge style to make the floor of the decking, or raised it to make the roof section. Great inspiration to think about the security when no tin use!

  • Avatar Michael October 18, 2015, 9:52 pm

    Interesting design… I seem to remember it is similar to their rolling cabins … similar design on big wheels. I like their work. Yes agree with some comments, the cantilevered rolling shutter could have future maintenance problems – I love big shutters and have had to design them a number of times for just this sort of brief . .. multi folding shutters would have provided both architectural accent and security on this “tree house”.

  • Avatar Eduardo October 19, 2015, 9:43 pm

    The barn door can be divided in two and slide both sides. Doors can have other use as well: additional wall, deck, roof or slider for emergency purposes.

  • Avatar Dakoda December 22, 2015, 8:37 pm

    How do I get one?

  • Avatar MICHELE CARTER December 26, 2015, 10:14 am



  • Avatar MICHELE CARTER January 1, 2016, 8:01 pm


  • Avatar Steve January 2, 2016, 6:47 pm

    Where is the power drawn from? Is it on the grid? Are they gas appliances? How about fluid waste? Is there a septic tank?

  • Avatar mike January 14, 2016, 7:36 pm

    how much does this modern Float cost??

  • Avatar Bob February 3, 2016, 12:20 am

    Looks great up on the stilts! My wonder is the shutters. Since they are made of heavy steel, it would seem that they would radiate a lot of heat to the inside of the house if you were to close them for privacy purposes. Just a thought!

  • Avatar Nick February 11, 2016, 9:53 pm

    Rust? how do you prepare the stairs outside,the deck and the interior ladder to prevent rust?

  • Avatar jm July 28, 2016, 3:00 am

    Prevent rust? We welcome rust. A nice design feature I like that actually protects the steel. So much character to rust–always changing…
    I like the sliding steel shutters just like that! And even in Florida–people shuttered their windows in high winds and storms. Secure, bulletproof, no maintenance, unassuming, no outgassing from siding, electromagnetic radiation shielding (nice)–FIREPROOF, what’s not to love? Now if I could just retract (or lower) the outside stairs somehow…

  • Avatar Don Steinel April 16, 2017, 8:07 pm

    Would like more info. On building one of the modern tiny homes on stilts
    With steel shutters in the Texas area. Prices would help also. Thank you

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee April 17, 2017, 7:13 am

      Hi Don, This home was custom-designed by an architecture firm. You can see the firm and their contact information to ask about getting your own version of that home here: http://www.olsonkundig.com/

  • Avatar Nancy November 19, 2017, 12:26 pm

    Doesn’t mention how it heats the home, unless I missed it. I really like it though!!

  • Avatar Jen November 22, 2017, 8:37 pm

    Love this! Clean lines and sturdy. Any ideas on how to find a ladder like that? I’ve searched high and low for something just like it for my loft.

  • Avatar Tim June 28, 2018, 4:26 pm

    Very nice!

  • Avatar twocrows June 28, 2018, 5:11 pm

    To those who are concerned about the “sail,” another option could be roll-down hurricane shutters. My home [in Florida] is surrounded by them. A metal slatted system rolls up into a covered housing. They come in various widths. Two might be needed to cover an entire side of the house. But there would be complete security from invaders AND storms and no “sail” hanging off the side of the house.
    Fwiw, we went through Hurricane Irma last year and, even with the shutters down [I stayed home throughout] there was no loud banging during the brunt of the storm.

    As for me, I like the idea of a deck that can be lowered and a roof that can be raised [on at least one side — two would be even better] when occupants are present, but hurricane shutters on the other sides would be effective — and out of the way when raised.

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