Modern Masonry: Cool Concrete Cabin + Warm Wood Patio

We tend to think of wood as a warm material appropriate to indoor spaces of a home and concrete in terms of cold building blocks best left to the driveway paving, retaining walls or an outdoor porch. This minimalist modern cabin reverses these conventions, with board-formed concrete shaping each room and wooden planks kept to outdoor deck spaces – and the effect is surprisingly comfortable-looking.

Stamped with the grain of the wood slats between which they were poured, the seamed concrete stripes along the walls and ceiling inside give the house a nice fine-grained scale of detail as well as a pleasing texture to the touch. Stairs, countertops and other elements fold and flow smoothly from the walls themselves, carefully planned by BAK Architects and constructed my masters of the material (with which crisp corners and sharp intersections are incredibly difficult to create).

Black-painted metal makes for a nice and simple trim and accent material, and of course the basis of a warm and welcoming wood-burning stove surrounded by dark-leather couches and smoothed concrete floors in the center of the living room. A thin coating makes the finishing process both simpler and less obvious than staining, while providing necessary waterproofing.

Select trees puncture the deck in the same way the stovepipe pierces the roof, creating verticals that contrast with the horizontal emphasis of the overall structure and the board lines in the concrete interior and exterior surfaces. In context, despite being a traditionally ‘man-made’ material by association and appearance, this cabin makes a surprisingly cozy and semi-camouflaged addition to the surrounding trees and landscape.

For those familiar with modernists, it is hard not to be reminded of Louis Kahn who famously re-purposed concrete in ways that made it more dynamic, exciting and people-friendly than the hard-lined Brutalists or classic bare-bones Modernists typically did. At the same time, there is a lot to be said for this building being ‘Modern’ in style – planes floating in space, criss-crossing lines, strong horizontals and floor-to-ceiling windows providing a connection between the outside and indoors.

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