Rock Fusion | “The Pierre” by Olson Kundig Architects

Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider

Another selection from the  2014 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture, “The Pierre” is a seamless rock fusion designed by Tom Kundig. The inspiration came from the owner’s affection for a stone outcropping on her property and the views from its peak. Conceived as a bunker nestled in the rock, the Pierre (French for stone) celebrates the materiality of the site. From certain angles, the house—with its rough materials, encompassing stone, green roof, and surrounding foliage—almost completely disappears into nature.

Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider

With the exception of a separate guest suite, the house functions on one main level, with an open plan kitchen and dining and living space. Two large bookcases open to provide concealed access to laundry and kitchen storage. A large pivoting steel and glass door opens for access to an outdoor terrace.

Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider

Set at a right angle to the main spaces, the master suite features a custom-designed bed with a leather headboard and footboard set in the middle of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The sink in the master bathroom is composed in water cascading through three polished pools in the existing stone.

Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider

Throughout the house, the rock extrudes into the space, contrasting with the textures of the furnishings. Interior and exterior fireplace hearths are carved out of existing stone; leveled on top, they are otherwise left raw.

Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider

To set the house deep into the site, portions of the rock outcropping were excavated using a combination of machine work and handwork. Excavated rock was reused as crushed aggregate in the concrete flooring and in a boulder wall in the carport.

Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider

This reuse eliminated significant costs in having to haul waste from the site. A green roof added a pervious surface to an area where there was none previously; this slows down storm water run-off through absorption and evaporation.

Jury Comments

There is a seamlessness between the natural environment and the interior of this project. It is unique.

The architecture is anchored into the site. The materiality of the concrete perfectly complements the landscape in a way you wouldn’t normally anticipate.

It makes you ponder the perception of concrete as constructed rock. The industrial detailing is unexpected and works so well.

Olson Kundig Architects