Muji Designs Prefab Timber Huts in Japan
Have you ever wanted to own a little corner of the world that you could escape to whenever you wanted? Thanks to a new prefabricated shelter by Japanese furniture, clothing, and homewares brand Muji, you can now do just that. The shelter, or “hut,” as Muji has called it, is a one-room dwelling that can be set up anywhere. That is, anywhere in Japan, as the company has not yet planned any international sales. Muji’s goal in creating the hut was to provide people with a space of respite and contemplation that could be sited in a garden, a beachfront, a hillside, or even in a field.
The hut measures 3.8 x 3.5 meters and consists of a single interior space separated from an external front porch by a sliding glass door. The room measures 9.1 square meters, while the porch provides an additional 3.1 square meters of space. Though the structure’s total surface area of 12.2 square meters might seem small, it’s a pretty generous size for a hut. The prefab has an almost perfectly square floor plan and a lean-to roof that pitches downwards from back to front, allowing water to run off easily. A slightly off-center window in the hut’s back wall promotes cross ventilation and permits through-views to the front to take full advantage of whatever idyllic setting the shelter finds itself in. With its sliding door open, the cabin can comfortably fit three to four people. Residents and guests alike will be able to enjoy protection from the elements indoors without having to isolate themselves from the surrounding external environment.
Nearly every part of the Muji hut was built using Japanese wood, from its timber frame to its exterior cladding all the way down to its interior wall paneling. The hut’s external walls are lined with blackened cedar boards, which have been burnt to become extra durable and to acquire antiseptic properties. Muji borrowed this technique from Japanese shipbuilding practices, in which wood is burned and stained to give it the strength to withstand harsh ocean tides. The prefab’s roof is made from structural plywood that has been covered with asphalt and a corrugated sheet of aluminum-zinc alloy for weather protection. The internal surfaces are finished with a simple cypress veneer, creating a minimal background over which owners will be able to decorate and express their individuality. The hut rests on a concrete raft foundation to keep it off the ground and has a mortar-finished floor for easy cleaning.
Muji says of the cabin, “It’s not as dramatic as owning a house or a vacation home, but it’s not as basic as going on a trip. Put it in the mountains, near the ocean, or in a garden, and it immediately blends in with the surroundings, inviting you to a whole new life.” This is only the latest in a series of prefabricated shelters by Muji. Two years ago, the company released a trio of mini-cabins and a test prefab house. The hut retails at $21,000 and is currently scheduled for a fall release.