Post-Fad Prefab: Retro-Modern Cabins for Neo-Rustic Living


If you could not tell from the title: these designs are a bit tough to categorize. There is a certain nostalgia for the classic cabin look: rough-hewn logs stacked up on their sides, a simple pitched roof, small door and window openings and perhaps a little chimney poking out the top and puffing out swirls of smoke. Somewhere between extreme traditionalism and ultra-modernism sits this series of green cabin plans – modest retro-modernist living spaces that use local materials, falling neither into the ‘extreme green’ category of contemporary (st)architecture nor the faux-vintage trap of newly-built but old-style log cabins.

This prefab cabin system from Add a Room starts with a small ?single-room space but can be built out to include multiple units, a kitchen and so forth as needed. Each piece is prefabricated as a unit off site and assembled in whatever arrangement works when moved to a rural location and built into a small studio, retreat or summer home to suit various needs.

In classic Scandinavian style, they are modest in appearance and use the bare minimum material palette to accomplish their purpose – standard-sized windows and doors, locally-farmed wooden slats, flat horizontal and vertical planes of solid and glass to make up the floors, decks, walls and ceilings. For those familiar with Alvar Alto, there is something clean, simple and modern about the overall designs generally and sketches specifically that calls his work (likewise set mostly in Northern Europe) to mind.

The reality is that quaint log cabins are almost never sustainable, from the ways they leak heat to the choice of materials and the way these trees are used – unless you plan on felling local forests, maybe. Beyond any impacts these classic favorites have on your favorite nature retreats, they are also anything but cheap to build in a contemporary setting where a tree has become a scarce building block.

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