Tucked at the base of the Jura Mountains in Switzerland lies the Jan Michalski Foundation, a place where international writers can complete their residencies with sweeping views of the Alps. Residents are invited to live out their visits, which can last anywhere from two weeks to six months, underneath a concrete canopy, where nine “treehouses” are suspended around the Foundation’s central buildings. That includes the recently completed “Suspended Forest” by Kengo Kuma, a polygonal hanging family house that focuses on timber both inside and out. The programming is linear and continuous, and Kengo Kuma & Associates describes the design philosophy behind the building as cocoon-like and enveloping. Residents can walk straight from the main entrance through the living area and out onto the floating balcony. That linearity necessitated the triangulated steel exterior that gives Suspended Forest its distinctive shape, and gives the cabin extra strength and rigidity. For waterproofing and soundproofing, the exterior of the house was clad in white steel plates, which were then topped with untreated timber shingles. As the shingles are exposed to the elements, they will change color to create nuance along the facade. Every shingle was hand-cut from local wood, with smaller oak and larger larch shingles arranged in a random pattern to make the facade seem more organic and dynamic. A series of non-aligned windows seem to “float” between the shingles evoking glimpses of shapes caught through a forest. Inside, larch plywood panels were used to wrap the walls and floor to create a space that is the “inverse” of the cabin’s exterior. While the shingles follow the structure’s form, the plywood instead expands in relation to the program. Skylights have also been punched in the cabin’s roof to lighten up the live-work area within. Kuma’s addition to the hanging “campus” marks a departure from the previously-built cabins that adhered to boxier, multi-story forms and curated midcentury modern-style interiors. A heavy use of timber and expansive views of the natural landscape are prevalent throughout each cabin. Kuma isn’t the only big name to build for the Jan Michalski Foundation. Pritzker Prize–winner Alejandro Aravena was responsible for the Elemental treehouse, a glass cube that floats atop a hanging concrete slab. Rather than being a workspace for residents, the Elemental treehouse is a cabin where writers and Foundation staff can cook and share meals. Granite floors, a common kitchen, dining table, and a living room area lend the cabin a more communal feel. Six of the resident cabins look out over Lake Geneva, while a seventh, a simple white cabin designed by the Swiss studio Décosterd, faces the Jura mountains. The Décosterd treehouse is clad in white, perforated steel panels that spell out in Morse code: “In addition to simplicity, nudity,” a Henry David Thoreau quote from Walden or, Life in the Woods. The Elemental cabin was the eighth treehouse in the complex, and now that Suspended Forest is complete, the total is up to nine. That isn’t the end of the Foundation’s expansion plans, as the group has mapped out multi-year expansion goals that include multiple new cabins.
Posts tagged with "Cabins":
As land prices continue to rise and supertall skyscrapers flourish, there’s been a resurgence of smaller, more intimately crafted spaces that prize attention to detail over grandiose statements. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), tiny homes, backyard studios, and obsessively detailed retail and restaurants are blowing up across Instagram and design-obsessed blogs. Whether it’s a self-constructed, modest wood cottage built with knowledge from A Pattern Language; the Olivia Wilde–designed tiny home commissioned by Dunkin’ Donuts; or a Beijing teahouse clad in polyethylene bricks by Kengo Kuma, these small spaces have captured the imagination of the public as well as architects. The reasons should be obvious. They’re photogenic, self-contained worlds that can reveal themselves—and the design narrative—more easily than the average skyscraper. Small spaces bring with them a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The spatial constraints are obvious, but programming and mechanical considerations can hamstring the most ambitious plans. On the flip side, the flexibility, low cost, quick construction times, and required attention to detail can result in truly experimental (and beautiful!) spaces. When The Architect’s Newspaper selected the 2018 Best of Design Awards winners for small spaces, the editors looked for exemplary projects that made the most out of their miniature means. From a mobile espresso bar in Colorado that took home top honors to a cabin perched above the White Mountains region in New Hampshire, the following projects rose above the rest in 2018. Birdhut Studio North Windermere, British Columbia Perched in the temperate forest that blankets the mountains of the Columbia Valley is an A-frame cabin that welcomes both humans and birds. With 12 nesting areas built into the project’s facade, Studio North has designed a fractalized birdhouse that also fits two humans. The 100-square-foot cabin is a passive intervention in the landscape. Nearly all of the materials used to build the retreat were locally scavenged. Lodgepole pine felled by a recent forest fire was employed to build the cross bracing that lifts Birdhut 9 feet off the ground, and the timber for the deck and cladding were taken from an older cabin. Eight-millimeter-thick polycarbonate panels clad both sides of Birdhut and, much like a greenhouse, trap sunlight to heat the interior. The translucent panels also visually dissolve the hut into the canopy. Circular windows on either side of the treehouse provide passive ventilation. Cabin on a Rock I-Kanda Architects White Mountains, New Hampshire You could call it glamping, but don’t call it easy. When Massachusetts-based I-Kanda Architects was tasked with designing a cabin for a family of four on a rocky granite outcropping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, uneven topography proved both a challenge and an inspiration. Instead of leveling the precariously peaked site, the 900-square-foot cabin cantilevers out atop nine hand-poured concrete footings. Because of the limited amount of granite the team had to build on, a loft area was added, and the cabin’s massing was sloped and carved away to prevent snow buildup, follow the natural contours of the site, and preserve views of the surrounding mountains. A simple material palette of birch planks and sheetrock keeps the interior light and playful even in the dim winter months and lends gravitas to the black wood stove. The cabin’s framing members were precut and assembled on-site, allowing the team to quickly assemble the building despite its complex geometry. Sol Coffee Mobile Espresso Bar Hyperlocal Workshop Longmont, Colorado Designing a mobile coffee bar that would bring high-quality craft roasts to discerning customers on the street was a challenge that held personal stakes for Andrew Michler; he is both the principal of Masonville-based design firm Hyperlocal Workshop and a co-owner of the coffee bar itself. In order to bring the full cafe experience to a 1979 Toyota Dolphin Camper, Hyperlocal had to balance the energy requirements of a fridge, water heater, espresso machine, grinders, and brewers against the truck’s 115-square-foot footprint. Instead of a smoky diesel generator, the team installed three 345-watt solar panels on the truck’s roof—enough to power the mobile coffee bar for the entire day. The camper was wrapped in translucent polycarbonate panels that silhouette the machinery within and cut a unique mountainous figure that makes it recognizable to customers. The barista window was placed at the back of the truck and the floor was lowered to allow employees to interact with customers at eye level. Further, a U-shaped galley counter system was used to optimize barista workflow—Michler claims the truck can serve 50 drinks an hour with “minimal wait times.”
Cabins and tiny houses seem to be cropping up everywhere, from country homes to affordable housing. In Wildwood State Park on Long Island, New York City–based WXY Architecture + Urban Design has designed a cabin prototype, the NYS cabin, specifically for the Long Island campground. While the usual image of a cabin in the woods is claustrophobic, window-starved and lacking in amenities, WXY’s design is anything but. The contemporary one- and two-bedroom cabins range in size from over 600 to nearly 800 square feet and feature tall, sloping ceilings, flexible floor plans, full kitchens, and naturally lit interiors. The exteriors of the cabins are clad in cedar shingles, with reclaimed mahogany detailing and metal roofing, allowing the structures to fit seamlessly in with existing Works Progress Administration (WPA) cabins that date from the 1930s. Designed to function across similar New York State campgrounds, WXY’s straightforward update of a classic design may very well end up in your neck of the woods. Claire Weisz, a principal of WXY, told Dwell the cabins were meant to be "robust, chunky, and larger in scale," with sparse detailing that will allow the structures to "silver out" with age. This is not the first time architects have forayed into the nation's park system. Minneapolis-based HGA won the 2016 American architectural award for its stylish cabins on concrete piers in Dakota County, Minnesota.
Even architects enjoy going to camp, particularly when it involves sleeping in thoughtfully-designed cabins. Such is the case for students of the Fallingwater Institute summer residency programs at High Meadow, the historic farm neighboring Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater house. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania–based firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson recently completed four new residences at High Meadow, adding to an existing 1960s cabin on the site and doubling the capacity of the summer programs. The Fallingwater Institute summer residency programs allow students and educators of architecture, art, and design to study Frank Lloyd Wright at one of his most recognized works, learning about the relationship between architecture and nature in the process. The new dwellings differ greatly from the design originally proposed by competition-winners Patkau Architects in 2010; that scheme would've burrowed the residences into the hillside. Instead, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson chose to expand the footprint of the existing cabin and perch the new dwellings on steel columns atop the hillside. The Norway Spruce used for the horizontal screen running along the complex’s exterior hallways was also harvested and milled on site. "The building's main entry welcomes visitors into a central screened porch, which joins the new architecture to an existing cabin and serves as the outdoor gathering and dining space," said Bill James, project architect from the firm's Pittsburgh office, in a press release. On the interior, the finishes of the residences are durable but minimal to add “a sparse elegance to the space,” the firm stated. Each dwelling features a desk and two twin beds with a full bathroom and closet storage. The project has been recognized by the AIA Pennsylvania chapter, receiving its highest honor, the 2016 AIA Pennsylvania Silver Medal. The jury stated that the building’s contrast to its surroundings made it a “graceful addition to the existing structure.” Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was also responsible for the adaptive reuse of the Barn at Fallingwater in 2006, a project that turned the 1870s barn into educational and event space for the Fallingwater property. For more information about the Fallingwater Institute and their residency programs, visit their website here.
In rural Victoria, Australia, a local firm Branch Studio Architects designed Pump House, a shed-like home that stores a water pump, farming equipment, and, sometimes, the clients, when they visit their horse, George. Pump House is built of plywood, corrugated sheeting, rough-sawn timber, and other low-cost materials. The unfinished plywood and timber clad the interior, which consists of an open living room and kitchen, separated from a bedroom and studio by a bathroom. Since the kitchen wraps the bathroom walls, there is one, central services core. The house is also minimal in environmental impact. It is oriented North-South to absorb the winter sun, and all energy and fuel are provided from off-grid sources. For instance, solar panels provide power, rainwater tanks supply water, and a wood-burner gives-off heat. The exterior is wrapped in black, corrugated, iron panels. Since the front and rear walls are glazed floor-to-ceiling, the clients have tree-house-like views of the lake, greenery, and George. In the summer, these windows and doors are opened for cross-ventilation, a natural way to cool the house. This craftsmanship, layout, and landscape allow Pump House, a small, cozy home, to have a sense of spaciousness.
As Halloween lurks around the corner, the need for protection from zombies has never been more urgent. So far, the survival technique of "grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over" has sufficed for centuries, if not millennia, though contemporary Zombies pose a much more vicious threat. If the documentary series, The Walking Dead has taught us anything, it's that you don't want to pick a fight with the undead. Fear not, for all is not lost as society's savior appears to lie in Yorkshire (an area in England well known for its cases of the uprising undead). Based in Leeds, log cabin design firm Tiger Sheds plan to save us all with their proposal for the Kickstarter-funded Zombie Fortification Cabin (ZFC-1). The two-story shelter comes complete with its own kitchen, living area with television, xBox (to play zombie games, of course), sound system turntables, a secure vegetable garden, a toilet, a storage area surrounded by barbed wire (mostly for weaponry), two bedrooms, and a gym (you have to be fit to fight zombies). An escape hatch and reinforced slit windows are also planned. Tiger Sheds dutifully pledges a "10 Year Anti Zombie Guarantee." How's that for a slice of fried gold? [Editor's Note: Some viewers may find the harmless promotional video disturbing.] https://vimeo.com/110132423 While all of this appears to make for a zombie-free lifestyle, it's only the beginning of Tiger Sheds' plan. The ZFC-1 will also feature:
- Interlocking planned and finished logs;
- A specially designed 4-way chamfered notch-joint system ensuring a tight fit to all boards with little room for damp, wind or zombie penetration;
- Square cut logs at the end to make it very difficult for zombies to climb onto the roof;
- Factory fitted pressure treated weatherproof heavy duty floor joists;
- Heavy duty green mineral roofing felt;
- Extra secure doors and windows;
- High quality glazing which is factory siliconed and internally beaded to all doors and windows.