Design collective I STIFFEN THEE has completed Kerplunk House, a tiny cabin in the desert with an eye-catching arrangement of exposed wood piercing through its cuboid volumes. Inspired by nature and traditional colonial Spanish architecture, the structure was built with stucco and exposed wood and elevated off the ground for minimal site impact. Conceived as a multipurpose live-work space, the Kerplunk House forms part of a desert propagation center and will be gradually surrounded by desert flora.

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person walking on timber walkway between the cube structures

Split into two volumes connected by an elevated, L-shaped outdoor walkway, Kerplunk House offers 224 square feet of primitive shelter. The building is punctuated by a series of timber beams that, despite their seemingly random appearance, are the organizing element behind the design. I STIFFEN THEE started with a “forest of columns” and then enclosed them within walls, floors and ceilings. Double-glazed windows and doors were also inserted around the exposed timber posts.

close up of wooden joists at the base of the structures

potted cacti on a small table and person lying down

“We wanted to take common architectural language, like columns and beams, and re-contextualize them as natural typologies, such as trunks and stumps,” the designers said. “The result is an integrated exterior-to-interior relationship, in which the contingent nature of the exterior support is reflected on the inside of the building. With the Kerplunk House, we have created a novel living experience that evokes a primal spatial sense; as if an entire forest was shrunk and stuffed inside an 8 x 8-square-foot room. Designed as a multipurpose living and working space for its inhabitants, we have created a miniature forest within the desert using vernacular materials and methods.”

close up of exposed wooden ceiling beams inside the cabin

Related: Tiny modern cube home boasts spectacular desert views

The bare-bones interior is minimally furnished and dressed in neutral tones with wood veneer lining the walls, ceilings and floors. Potted prickly pear cacti bring a pop of greenery into the tiny cabin and further tie the building to the landscape, which will be densely covered in cacti and other desert flora over time.


Images by Breyden Anderson

two people talking outside of cube cabins

sketch of the structure surrounded by desert plants