The Modernist Cabin


The project was designed for an architectural competition, promoted by a North American website.

The challenge was to develop a small vacation home for a couple with two grown children, a kind of a modernist retreat. The aim was to build an economic, ecological, modern but without formal excesses house, which would integrate smoothly into the landscape of a forest in a lake front.  It should suggest what may be termed "affordable luxury".

The proposal is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional Wood Cabin. Having all the commodities of modern life, the house design essays a true ecological approach to building, based on passive processes and common sense. The core of this design is the interaction between nature and the house and its inhabitants, the outdoor/indoor relation, and the way light and the passage of time affect materials and coatings. The house is seen as a mean to reestablish a more respectful communion between man and environment, reducing its ecological footprint.

The windows and exterior shutters fully retract into the walls, making the forest and the lake extensions from the inside. Internal partitioning is solved with large sliding panels, increasing the fluidity of space and allowing to adjust the partitioning to the needs of each moment.
Several solutions were adopted in order to reduce the house’s impact on the environment and reduce it’s ecological footprint, namely the elevated floor, that reduces impact on the soil and prevents flood damage.

Resistant and low maintenance materials were proposed but leaving visible the patina of years. This acknowledge of the passage of time is the essential and poetic counterpoint to the minimalism and apparent simplicity of the house design.

Project: Henrique Barros-Gomes

Date: 2010

Location: USA