Puget Sound, Washington

Shipshape cabin

Merit Award: Vacation house

A comfortable retreat fits into a tiny but durable 16- by 22-foot package perched on a gusty island northwest of Seattle.

Why it won: Architect Tim Carlander borrowed design principles from boatbuilding to create a multifunctional one-room box. The roof angles upward just enough to shed rain and make space for a sleeping loft. A simple L-shaped wall projects outward from the box, sheltering a small garden and providing privacy from uphill neighbors. Standard-size panels of maple and cherry plywood are screwed directly onto the interior wall studs. "There are no structural gymnastics here," Carlander says. Small but mighty, the sturdy cabin features double doors that bring the natural drama of the Northwest inside. Rugged fiberboard and galvanized aluminum siding ease maintenance.

Design:  Vandeventer + Carlander Architects, Seattle (206/323-8770)