CFI’ Backwoods Cabin of the Future 2016 - Award List

by Community Forests International on April 17, 2016

The winning design 'Be a part of nature' was developed by German architecture firm AW+ and will be constructed at CFI’s fledgling Rural Innovation Campus in New Brunswick, Canada this summer.  The world-class retreat will serve as inspired accommodation for students and innovators in-residence.

“A powerful, simple, and elegant form using recycled wood with straw bail insulation. Designed to take advantage of sloping topography in a thoughtful and effective way.” - Craig Applegath (Juror / Architect, PPOAA, AAA, AIBC, NSAA, FRAIC, LEED® AP) on ‘Be a part of nature’

“A scheme whose qualities and design snuck up on us during the jury process.  Through a tightly and rigorously though-out minimal approach, its use of natural and sustainable materials and poetic quiet spaces will make for a stunning residence in the New Brunswick Forest.” - John Leroux (Juror / AANB) on ‘Be a part of nature’

“This design did not immediately catch my eye but on a deeper look it had everything we were looking for. Low embodied carbon materials including straw, clay, and local wood while achieving energy efficiency in the design with high R-value insulation and proper ventilation. The moss roof panels also fit perfectly in the design . . . Finally, the long-lasting nature of this design is essential to reducing our carbon footprint, with charred wood to preserve it and a pillar foundation to keep good airflow and reduce the building’s impact in the forest.” - Estelle Drisdelle (Juror / CFI Co-Founder) on ‘Be a part of nature’




Max Rymsha of Lviv, Ukraine placed 2nd with ‘Sun Catcher’: a modern approach to a millennia-old building technology – thatch

“It is designed to catch the sun, and then when the sun goes down, the drawbridge wall can be pulled up to insulate and protect the cabin for the night. Most compelling is the thoughtful and innovative use of thatch as a contemporary and very low carbon roofing and siding material. Very few of the submitted cabin designs combined functional, sustainable, and poetic attributes as successfully as this.” - Craig Applegath (Juror / Architect, PPOAA, AAA, AIBC, NSAA, FRAIC, LEED® AP) on ‘Sun Catcher’

"The jury were unanimously excited about the thatch approach combined with the geometry and simplicity of the scheme. If built with care, it could be a new paradigm of how to build small and in harmony with nature in New Brunswick."- Johnny Leroux, Juror/ Architect, AANB




The Jury Award for Architectural Poetry went to ‘A Hidden Stone in the Woods’ by designers Isabel Gómez García & Javier Serrano Fajardo from Seville, Spain.

"A very Zen-like solution that calmly, but sophisticatedly, would allow one to fine solace in the forest." - Johnny Leroux, Juror /Architect, AANB

"A powerfully simple and poetic form. I was somewhat ambivalent about the big glass facade but compelling nonetheless. I really like the way it somehow manages to disappear into the woods even at its large scale." - Craig Applegath, Juror/Architect, PPOAA, AAA, AIBC, NSAA, FRAIC, LEED® AP


Isabel Gómez García

Javier Serrano Fajardo


The Jury Award for Soul, a new category this year went to Jason-Orbe Smith, Los Angeles, USA and Low-Carbon Consultant Guillaume Fabre Shanghai, China with their 'Cozy' Cabin.

"The Cozy cabin would surely make for a unique experience with a versatile and tranquil loft space above the sleeping quarters providing panoramic views of the woods. The double shell design of local materials lends pleasantly to low-carbon operation by localizing heating and ventilating requirements. The design has a loveable presence to it that would be a delight to experience." - Nathan Fisher, Juror/Architect, Winner of 2014 'blur the lines' Competition

"[T]he project that both made me smile, and also do a 'double take'. At first glance the cladding system of the Cozy seemed ridiculous but on looking longer at the concept I was reminded of wonderful attic spaces in the Himalayas that were used for drying food, sleeping and dreaming during warmer days . . . I liked too that they used earth bags for the building envelope, an affordable and globally transferable building system." - Kim Thompson, Juror/ Natural Builder, Teacher, Executive Director of the Deanery Project


Jason Orbe-Smith

Guillaume Fabre


M. Aravinth Kumar, S. Froz, P. Mahadevan, & B. Convind Raj from Tamilnadu, India walked away with the People's Choice Award for their subission 'Brunswick Hickory Cabin' with over 850 online votes.






1st Prize

Be a part of nature


1st Runner-up

Sun Catcher
Max Rymsha
Lviv, Ukraine


Jury Award for Architectural Poetry

A Hidden Stone in the Woods
Isabel Gómez García & Javier Serrano Fajardo
Seville, Spain


Jury Award for Soul

“Everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul.”

 – Sambo Mockbee


Jason Orbe-Smith (Designer)
Los Angeles, USA

Guillaume Fabre (Low-Carbon Consultant)
Shanghai, China


People's Choice Award

Brunswick Hickory Cabin
M. Aravinth Kumar, S. Froz, P. Mahadevan, B. Convind Raj
Tamilnadu, India





Shelter two+(one)
Vladimir Sergeev

Be a part of nature

Alecsander Gonçalves & Deyvison Estevan Madeira
São Paulo, Brazil

Milind Goel
Tokyo, Japan

Analog Cabin
Troy Holloway
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Mino House
Katsuya Arai

Bower Retreat
Carmine D'Alessandro & Kate Brown
Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

The Pillar
Angele Clarke & Colin Simic

Sun Catcher
Max Rymsha
Lviv, Ukraine

Acadian Fold
Tyler Reynolds & Adrienne Gerrits
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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