Really Cool Small Houses

I love the idea of a small off the grid cabin. Not to live in full time. But to escape to for a weekend of skiing, hiking or just relaxing with my dog? Perfect.

These are some pretty great examples of the breed.

Sunset Cabin by Taylor Smyth Architects, exterior, 274 square feet, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada.

Stunning, simple, ingenious, semi-invisible and yes, bird-safe despite its dangerous mirror-camouflaged exteiror (thanks to a thin infrared film on the outer walls visible only to birds). When you last read about it here, it was just a design in the making. Now it is a real-life, three-story micro-hotel just north of nowhere, Sweden.
Nestled near the Arctic Circle, this is one of a series of boutique stand-alone structures in a unique system of nature-oriented hotels. Inside, amazingly enough, one finds a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room space split between two interior stories (with a rooftop deck above).
Also on the construction agenda: a so-called UFO, a hanging Bird’s Nest and a more-contemporary suspended Cabin as well as a 12-person Tree Sauna and other community and support structures, variously hung from above or lofted from below.
The?Mirrorcube has, of course, had to compromise certain details to be built. ?The seamless glass box that looked like a glossy container of perfection in plans and drawings might be a bit more difficult to keep clean in reality (and comes with attached cables that detract from its pure form).
Plywood on the inside, and mirrored aluminum on the outside, the unit provides 360-degree views (albeit through smallish windows) from a few stories up in the air – not a bad way to spend the weekend watching wildlife. The original ladder leading up, though, was discarded in the final design in favor of a ramp, which detracts somewhat from the standalone shape of the cube.

This one is my all time favorite, and something I plan on copying at some point for a summer house.

At 500 square feet, it is not a huge retreat but it serves its purpose perfectly: fold-up sides keep it secure when not in use, while doubling as privacy screens, light blocks and thermal barriers as desired.
Essentially a glass house on the inside, folding down three of the four exterior walls gives the occupant a nearly 360-degree connection to the surrounding context .
These wall sections in turn become exterior decks when lowered, and are easily raised via “ a hydraulic system of wires, rope, pivoting sheaves and lead blocks, that serves as shutters.”
The steeply-sloped roof simply drains water toward the back, and extends out on the other three sides to provide cantilevered cover and shade, with minimalist (lack of) detailing that fits with the rest of the structure.
Inside, a 180-degree rotating fireplace likewise accommodates directional decisions about where one wants to face – into distant views or into the nearby wildlife-populated brush. The primarily single-space strategy also accommodates a kitchenette and small bathroom. Designed by Olson Kundig Architects.

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