Monday, March 10, 2008
Woodland Cabin near Flanders, Belgium by Robbrecht en Daem Architecten
Photographs are copyright Kristien Daem.
The term cabin connotes numerous associations: small, remote, intimate, even wooden. This Woodland Cabin south of Flanders by Belgian architects Robbrecht en Daem clearly exhibits such characteristics, due to its size, siting, layout, and materiality. While these distinct traits make cabins appealing, these days some of their appeal also stems from the "unspoiled" nature of the building type: the reduced (or lack of) energy use, infrastructure, and other unsustainable process and/or materials.
The cabin is sited next to a small body of water, in an area that affords views of the cabin from above, below, and to the side. Given these site conditions, much of the solution is dictated: open the cabin to the water and treat the small structure as an object "in the round." The architects raised the cabin off the forest floor on a wood deck and then echoed this gesture in the roof, where leaves collect to conceal the cabin in certain months.
The most distinctive aspect of the cabin is its walls made of standard, square section lumber stacked in two semi-circular sections. The radius is dictated by the lengths of the timber pieces, where each is an extension of the previous, and interlocking together so no air spaces are created and distinct patterns are created on the exterior and interior. Additionally, a slight taper in section is created by this stacking, making the interior feel even more intimate than its small scale suggests.
The reason for this stacking of lumber in two semi-circular sections is not to make an architectural statement, but to create two spaces out of one. The pinch created by both the circles and the angle of the entry's glass walls demarcates the sleeping area from the seating area, with the fireplace occupying the pinch point in-between. With this in mind the design is an intelligent solution that beautifully melds enclosure and function together in a way that even architecture outside this appealing building type should endeavor.