Here at Inhabitat, we understand the importance of not only respecting our environment, but also taking the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as often as possible. Nature lovers and winter sport enthusiasts need a place to rest their heads when visiting the outdoors, and we celebrate those cabins and retreats that make the effort to be responsible and sustainable. Whether the cabin is prefabricated, energy-efficient, or made from recycled materials, we applaud the effort to help preserve nature while still enjoying it. Read on to see six of our favorite cabins for your green retreat this winter!
This 800-square-foot prefabricated cabin, located 8,600 feet above Paradise Valley, Montana is a smart, efficient, and sustainable retreat for any holiday. The home appears as two volumes and is divided programmatically into a sleeping core, and a living core. The sleeping core includes two bedrooms and a rooftop deck for stargazing, while the living core holds the kitchen, bathroom, and gathering space, the latter of which has views in three directions of the valley floor. The home has a breezeway between the two volumes, and this element helps to provide passive cooling during the warmer days on the mountain. The home can be closed up while unoccupied with a series of rolling shutters, doors, and pivoting gates, which protect the interior from the elements. All of these aspects make this cabin home a great retreat for its owners during both summer and winter.
When it comes to winter refuges, Cimini Architettura’s Eco-Temporary Refuge in the Swiss Alps is the place to be. It’s a wonderful escape primarily due to the views, but it also was developed to keep its footprint small and environmental impact to a minimum. The design provides living arrangements for up to six people, and it’s powered primarily by the sun. Not only does this cabin take advantage of passive solar heating, but it also has a 4kW solar array installed on the walls of the retreat to keep the snow from covering it. With innovations like under-floor heating, solar electric powered appliances, and reserve bioethanol emergency heating, this building is a wonderful way to experience the wilderness. Best of all, the cabin can be transported to and from any site via a helicopter. The prefabricated unit rests on stilts and does little to impact the area’s natural footprint.
Having just been approved for 2013, this Mountain Hill Cabin designed by Fantastic Norway architects is a great cabin in a winter wonderland. The cabin was designed as a cozy winter hideaway and as a building that fits into the surrounding mountain landscape. Visitors can even ski down the roof! But this retreat is not for the faint of heart and must be reached by skis during the winter. The home’s design is one part biomimicry, in that it mimics the mountainous landscape, and one part energy-efficiency. The large sun-facing windows break up the sloping roofs in order to flood the interiors with light and heat. The cabin’s sloping roof even protects the interiors from snow and wind. Also, the walls of the cabin are specially insulated to keep occupants warm when the temperature dips below zero.
Eggleston Farkas’ Methow Cabin is one of the most efficient and sustainable that Washington State has ever seen. Built to be the base of outdoor activities in cross-country skiing and mountain biking mecca of Winthrop, Washington, this cabin can accommodate up to eight people during peak season — quite impressive for a building with such a small footprint. The cabin is designed with a high, sloping roof that allows to snow to slide off during the winter, and this slope provides for the installation of a loft above the communal area. The design also incorporates natural ventilation, solar shading, and energy-efficient heating. This cabin is a great option for winter adventurers with an eco-conscience.
Los Canteros Mountain Refuge by dRN Arquitectos
In Farellones, Chile a 140-square-meter mountain cabin is located in one of the ski resorts located about an hour east of Santiago. The cabin is constructed from stone, steel and wood and walks itself down the terraced mountain site. Due to the weather conditions, the construction schedule was tight, leading the design team to resolve the structure of the cabin by using a prefabricated steel frame. The steel frame was then covered with layers of insulating materials, waterproofing, and exterior cladding, which made this cabin a fortress for snow-hungry travelers. The efficiency of construction and the flexibility of space make this cabin a wonderful winter escape.
Another cabin project in the Methow Valley of Washington State is the Rolling Huts designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. These “huts” sit lightly on a site located in a flood plain meadow in an alpine valley well known for cross-country skiing and hiking. The Rolling Huts get their name from low tech wheels that lift the building above the meadow. They are a modern interpretation of camping for a region of Washington not too far from Seattle. These huts are equipped with a small refrigerator, microwave, fireplace and even Wi-Fi. They can sleep up to four and are also equipped with a portable toilet. Though this project was completed in 2007, it remains a favorite of Inhabitat because of the project’s care and responsibility towards nature.