Future in Ruins: Small Open-Plan, Concrete & Wood Cabin

Death, decay, destruction? Wait, what? No, there are no plans to demolish this place now or in the near future – but years, decades or centuries from now if the retreat becomes abandoned it will decay in a visually-dynamic way, wood pealing away from a poured-concrete platform and central cast-in-place chimney.

While it is not the first worry of any architect (let alone a client), considering the way a building will weather and age both while it is used and if (when) it is eventually deserted shows forethought and imagination above and beyond the basic call of designer duty. Fortunately, Olson-Kundig Architects have a knack for thinking beyond the narrow logistical confines of a given house-as-project.

First, the footing and certain core structural walls – most notably those wrapping the hearth in the middle – were poured on site and show the steel rebar holes that mark the means of their construction.

Next, a series of wood and glass panels are layered around to complete the exterior walls, and a wood-beam-supported (and wooden-slat) roof were placed on top, as this exploded, three-dimensional axonometric rendering shows in step-by-step detail. The ‘concept’ for this part of the cabin was, in fact, a tent – in other words: a simple and temporary structure erected on a more permanent ands table ground.

As interesting as it is to see how this little forest home came together, it is equally interesting to imagine how it would also all come apart some day. This is an aspect of sustainability not many ‘green’ designers necessarily put enough thought into. Meanwhile, its materials are also well-chosen for it to weather while it remains occupied (hopefully for a long time yet to come).

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