Cowboy Cabin
in the wild, North America
635 SF
2009


DESIGN
This taciturn little cabin is one of eight designs in a limited line of flat-pack cabins commissioned by Form & Forest, a new Canadian company. This series of simple, modern cabins synthesize and resolve the conflict between building generically and building specifically; the designs have been conceived of with no particular site in mind, yet they can be easily fine-tuned to specific sites, geographies, orientations and climates, intentionally.

Since The Cowboy's footprint is so small, its concept is potently singular. The cabin's parti is a literal realization of the familiar scene in many western genre movies where a cowboy is bathing, usually in the centre of a room, keeping all friends and foes in clear sight. Similarly, this cabin's central courtyard allows its bathtub to survey the lay of the land, inside and out. The formal "hole" in the house will contain one lone tree, an iconic reminder of nature's quiet insistence.

SITING
By assembling the cabin's precast and prefabricated building modules around one mature tree on the cabin's site, the simple question "which came first, the tree or the cabin?" becomes a dynamic presence from all interior spaces. By locating the terrace, deck and main floor level 2'-0" above the ground, flat sites and uneven sites are both deferred to and allowed for. The cabin's massing is either gracefully hovering above or heavily embedded into the ground, articulating the duality of temporality and permanence that defines a cabin / camp in the wilderness.

ORIENTATION
The Cowboy's radial form provides large glass openings on three sides, with one elevation left intentionally blank. Based on the inclination of the cabin's owner or the geography of the building site, the cabin can be assembled in a variety of orientations, to allow the sun to track through the interior spaces in a personal way. The mute back wall of the house enables the cabin to be located near other cabins or roads, with total seclusion.