Pilgrimages back to nature take many forms, ranging from going to live in an archetypal primitive hut to staying in a modern summer home or chalet in remote locations. Whether floating on a mountaintop or nestled in a lakeside clearing, the cabin represents the adult manifestation of our beloved childhood hiding places – a personal haven. As nature returns to the spotlight, an interesting interplay between indoor and outdoor living ensues. Hideouts such as the ones shown here offer room for reflection, space to see without being seen. Refreshing, and in some ways rebellious, these shelters push back against the contemporary tendency to over-share and over-consume within the public eye. Lyrical, protective and contemplative, they reignite our connection to the wild. Whether tucked into the hillside or in between the leaves, such sacred places become the physical embodiments of what we all seek. ‘Hide and Seek: The Architecture of Cabins and Hide-Outs’, edited by Sofia Borges, Sven Ehmann and Robert Klanten
Bivacco Luca Vuerich
Architect: Giovanni Pesamosca
Location: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
This tiny A-frame cabin is perched on a rugged, mountainous spot in the Julian Alps, 2,531 metres above sea level. Named after a deceased climber – it was commissioned by his family – the exhilarating retreat sleeps up to nine guests. Strategically placed, the 16-square-metre shelter appears along a summit trail, providing refuge for hikers and climbers. Built in a single day, it offers respite from the elements in winter and becomes a destination in its own right during the summer.
Fire Shelter: 01
Architect: Simon Hjermind Jensen
Location: Capital Region of Denmark
This egg-like shelter is composed of CNC-fabricated plywood and polycarbonate. The thin and flexible shell, which is reminiscent of a primitive tepee dwelling, has a hole in the top and two openings at the bottom that promote natural ventilation. A simple bench encircles the interior, positioning visitors around the central fireplace. Transparent polycarbonate coats the upper part of the structure, letting in light during the day and transmitting the warm glow of the fire by night.
Architect: Robin Falck
Location: Uusimaa, Finland
This tiny getaway was designed and built in just two weeks. Making the most of a limited budget, the homeowner constructed the cabin using local and recycled materials, which were all carried onto the site by hand to minimise damage to the surroundings. The two-level dwelling, which is named after the Italian word for ‘bird’s nest’, comprises a lounge area and kitchen on the ground floor and a sleeping loft above. An outdoor sun deck measures more than twice the width of the house and serves as an open-air living room. The angle and size of the large window ensures that the compact interior is filled with natural light and that visitors have a striking view of the treetops and water beyond.
Lyset Paa Lista
Architect: TYIN Tegnestue
Location: southern Norway
This simple wooden structure was built among the sand dunes in Lista, Norway. Part of a communal project by a group of 50 landowners, the house was designed to drive tourism to the area, which has seen an increase in migration. It’s made accessible by a long wooden pathway that extends over the complex and uneven terrain. Fondly named The Light of Lista by its owners, the enticing refuge is an ideal location for watching the captivating aurora borealis displays in the night sky.
Location: Ontario, Canada
In a forest of birch and spruce trees along the Kawartha Lakes, this whimsical cottage acts as a versatile extension to a large family home. The imaginative retreat reinterprets life in a tree house, where nature plays an integral part in the construction. Beneath the steeply pitched A-frame roof clad in charred cedar siding, a wall of mirrors disguises a built-in terrace. This protected veranda, formed out of a deep cut in the building’s structure, camouflages the lower level of the cabin within a partition of forest reflections. Inside, a cosy living room leads up to a dining area and sleeping loft above. Fourteen openings into the double-height living space reveal glimpses of sky and trees.
Architect: Jason Thawley
Location: South East England, UK
A floating spherical tent that hovers in the trees, this comfortable, portable shelter blends delicately into woodland and forest settings without disrupting their fragile ecosystems. Made from recycled and natural materials, the sustainable structure can be easily assembled and transported, taking camping off the ground and into the air.
Between Alder and Oak
Location: Lower Saxony, Germany
This exceptional treehouse in northwest Germany is characterised by its curved roof and large dormer window. Descriptively named, the hideout hovers over a scenic park-like property, nestled between an alder tree and an oak tree. From this elevated perch guests can marvel at the dazzling panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. The comfortable interior, which contains a spacious sleeping area, is furnished with a bench and oak drawers for ample storage. A staircase leads up to a wide wooden terrace, which comfortably accommodates a dining table and chairs. This supersized version of the childhood treehouse is the ultimate grown-up getaway.
Sol Duc Cabin
Architect: Olson Kundig Architects
Location: Pacific Northwest, US
This striking cabin on stilts is a compact and virtually indestructible home for its owners, who head to this secluded spot for fishing expeditions. The entrance, dining and kitchen areas are located on the lower floor, while a sleeping loft hovers above. A simple steel deck extends from the lower level, offering uninterrupted views of the river. Largely prefabricated to reduce site disruption, the innovative structure can be closed up using a huge shutter while the owners are away. The exterior’s distressed patina complements the cabin’s rugged setting and a cantilevered roof offers protection from both the summer sun and the strong coastal storms.
Read the full feature in ELLE Decoration Country Volume 5