Sanne Janssen Groesbeek

Abcoude, Netherlands



A backwoods cabin should protect against rain, snow, sun, cold, heat or wind, making you feel at home and protected. It is important to realize that staying in the cabin is not the main goal for visitors: being in the woods is. The backwoods cabin is a refuge to recover, relax and reflect after a day outdoors.

This cabin is considered to be a part of the woods, mainly merging into its environment. Nevertheless a number of white elements on the exterior make it possible to easily find this home in nature. A subtle distinction and expression.

One of the most important aspects of ecological design is the use of low environmental impact construction materials. The main advantages are lower CO2 emissions and the use of natural resources. This cabin is mainly made of wood (construction and cladding of both interior and exterior) and flax (insulation).

The exterior is completely made of western red cedar. Western red cedar has a naturally resistance to moisture, decay and insect damage. It is a local product, carrying a lower cost and having a lower environmental cost as CO2 emissions generated by transport is reduced.

Flax is used for insulation. Flax is a temperature and moisture regulating material. It has a high thermal-resistance factor and heat-storage capacity. Using flax for insulation is less of a health risk than traditional insulation and both technologically and economically more attractive. By using 170 mm of flax for walls, roof and floor the cabin is well insulated and only limited use of the wood stove is necessary.

To enhance durability the cabin is elevated from the ground. The elevation enables a free flow of rainwater thereby minimally effecting the natural surroundings. To level the floor precast concrete tiles are used, ensuring general applicability and easy adaption to the location. The use of tree trunks as a foundation –also being used as a step to enter the cabin- might also be considered.

Good positioning is essential for energy efficiency. Doors with glass on the east and west facade make it possible to enter the cabin providing a free view from the inside and enabling the sun to lighten and heathen the interior. Shutters are added to prevent the sun from heating during summertime. Depending on the time of the day the eastern or western door can be used. Two windows on the south facade provide a view sitting on the bed or at the table. A roof overhang prevents the sun to enter the room in summertime.

A solar panel is added to the sloped roof providing enough energy for lighting and recharging batteries. By decreasing the slope on the north side of the roof the conditioned volume is reduced and material has been saved.

The use of whitewashed birch plywood for interior cladding creates a light-colored interior that reflects daylight limiting the need for artificial lighting.

Only paint free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) should be used and all wood must have a FSC or PEFC certification.

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