Burnt Offering Team
In taking on the challenge to design this back-woods cabin our goal was to create a building embodying CFI's core values, bringing together a broadly sustainable approach to design with the provision of comfortable, useful space, held together in a distinctive and dynamic wrapper.
New Brunswick's vernacular architecture has often enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with its natural surroundings. We felt it important to recognise these local precedents when considering our own approach to the landscape. The choice of white cedar shingles to clad the cabin references the area's many barns, fishing sheds and other buildings employing this natural, resilient, locally-produced material. Further, the simple, easily constructed gabled roof may be New Brunswick's most distinctive architectural silhouette, while the use of stilts to lift the building is a common East Coast maritime tradition. The use of these elements in our design is not vernacular lip-service. They simply make sense as intelligent responses to local conditions.
Yet, while we appreciate learning from local heritage, our design is unabashedly a contemporary conversation on architecture. The uniform use of shingles blurs traditional lines dividing roof from walls from floors; giving a sculptural impression to the cabin as though it were formed out of a single material in the landscape rather than an assemblage of disparate parts. The rounded-off gabled form is extruded beyond interior spaces, creating a sheltering overhang for the entrance and space for firewood storage at one end, and a generous protected deck at the other; reaching out beyond walls to its natural surroundings. To one side, an extruded window opening creates an intimate seating area , enabling one to occupy this liminal space separating interior from exterior. To this same end, the deck wall pivots on a centrehung hinge, opening to extend the living space outside, further blurring the lines between the cabin and its site.
Situated where the slope drops off towards views of the valley, one enters from the foot path by way of a short bridge, or by climbing a rope ladder to the back deck as one would a tree fort. Inside, two single beds morph into a desk, seating and storage, all built into the cabin in simple, hard-wearing ply. A sitting area, complete with wood stove, gives way to the south-facing deck in fair weather. As with tree forts, our design conceives of the cabin as a refuge and a site to commune with nature.
A sustainable approach to design informed each decision made for the cabin. Where ever possible, the materials chosen - cedar shingles, lumber, custom windows, recycled cotton insulation - are locally sourced and natural, with minimal embodied energy. They are easily brought to the site and require virtually no modifications to the existing landscape. Elevating the cabin performs a series of important functions. By lifting it up on stilts, natural drainage remains unaffected and plant and animal habitats remain largely untouched . Minimal foundations also leave the landscape relatively unscathed once its life cycle eventually comes to an end.
7 scanned / 6 viewable
- Site Plan