JIM OLSON’S TIMELESS ARCHITECTURE

“My goal is to create timeless architecture–not trendy and not dated,” states acclaimed architect Jim Olson. True to his goal, he has spent 55 years remodeling his Puget Sound weekend retreat. Each of the 4 successive remodelings has integrated the previous structure rather than erasing it. Fifty-five years in the making and we are not sure if he’s done with it yet. This is the essence of Olson, Founding partner of Olson Kundig, who has been exploring the aesthetic interplay of art, nature, and architecture, and the relationship between light and space, for nearly 50 years.

Asian Property Review chats with the multiple award-winning architect who’s been named as one of the top 100 design influencers in the world by Architectural Digest and is possibly one of the few architects specializing in building art galleries in private homes or ‘in-home galleries’.

Text by Jan Yong | Photography by Olson Kundig

1. What is your design philosophy or vision?

My design philosophy or vision is of landscape, architecture, interiors and art as one integrated expression.

Architecture is subtle and acts as a vehicle to observe nature and art. Through it, I try to guide people to look at what is around them by framing particular views and vistas of art and nature. My architecture tries to bring the outside and inside together by blurring the boundary between the two.

I see our environment as continuous and connected; everything affects everything else. Architecture should fit into its context in a way that makes a better whole. Buildings should melt into the landscape as if they grew there.

Other design elements that are important to me are things like scale, proportion, composition, cadence, colour and texture. I am inspired by the intrinsic beauty of natural materials. I cannot overstate the importance of light to architecture and I have spent my entire career learning how to use light to the best advantage. For instance, light can be harvested and sculpted to create a mood of tranquility in a space. It is also possible to balance light in a home and protect it from the sun through broad overhangs and trellises.

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