Clean-Lined Contrast : Winter Architecture



I’m all for the traditional cozy cabins we think of when we consider a winter retreat. The fireplace, the log structure, the puffy couches, the views! Its all so quaint! But, there is something about modern or contemporary design in the wintertime that has me second guessing the traditional motif. The following ‘winter cabins’ are perfect examples of the wonderful contrast of the clean-lined geometry of modernism, against the organic and billowing nature of the winter landscape. They also just show you that despite this contrast, there is a deeper connection between the simplistic contemporary design and the stillness and crispness of a winter landscape that makes them just ‘fit-in’.

Methow Cabin – Eggleston | Farkas Architects – Winthrop, Washington (USA)


This little retreat is located in a valley that provides a number of a cross country ski and bike trails. The design is functional and minimal, and can accommodate up to 8 people (not sure if that is comfortably but) with space for communal gathering. The sloped roof sheds snow easily, but also mimics the contours of the surrounding hills, as well as opening up the views on the end to align with the end of the valley.


The interior is arranged to maximize space – with the service areas on the far side (of this image) where the road is located, and the living space towards the views with a slotted window aligned with the ski path to watch as people ski by (the few people I would think). I like that the outside appearance is understated – the colour of the wood blends in with its surroundings – and that there is warmer wood used on the inside giving the users that cozy, cabin feel.


It is the definition of a ‘sleek’ ski lodge, but still has all the important amenities you need after a cold trip on the trails.

Rolling Huts + Delta Shelter – Olson Kundig Architects – Mazama, Washington (USA)


The Delta Shelter is a 1,000 SF vacation home nestled in a floodplain valley in the Mazama region of Washington. Though it varies from other ‘cabins’ as it is constructed of metal, which is a material that contrasts highly to what architects consider ‘natural materials,’ it still maintains a connection to its surrounding landscape. The metal is the kind that patinas (like CoreTen Steel), so as the building ages the metal naturally rusts creating a beautiful texture.


This house is particularly interesting, because the metal panels or shutters can actually close when the owner is away (you crank a neat metal wheel to close the shutters). I also like two other design elements on this house – the first is the way that the building is built up on stilts – making its connection with the ground much lighter and less impactful – and the second is that the kitchen and living space is located on the top level maximizing the views of the valley.The only complaint I have about this cabin, is that there is manicured grass around the thing in the summer… it should be wild grasses that are long and tall in my opinion – really connect the building to the landscape and let it be wild!

Rolling-Hut-Mazama-WinterThese little guys were created after the Delta Shelter, and you can see a clear connection in terms of the aesthetic. However these structures utilize wood, which in a way makes sense as they are lower to the ground and therefore more connected to the direct surrounding landscape. These cabins are also very ‘sustainable’ in that they are movable (they are up on wheels!) – which was purposeful as they are intended to have a decreased impact on the site and allow for the landscape they sit upon (a former RV campground) to regenerate.

Juvet Landscape Hotel – Jensen + Skodvin Architects – Norway

700_juvet-landscape-hotel-minimal-wood-structureI really want to visit this hotel…

The design was intended to allow for guests to reconnect with nature, in these 7 small cabins each situated in a different position on the site. The views vary from the local stream and pond, to the dense forest, to forest clearing. Each of the cabins has a different layout, in order to enhance and focus those views, and each has at least one completely glass wall. Similarly to the other two the cabins are built on stilts, creating a floating effect.

700_juvet-landscape-hotel-in-norway-modern-minimalist-glass-hotel-with-viewThe interiors are also purposefully dark and spare to further highlight the views. The only parts of the cabins that are more colourful are the washrooms. Let’s just stare at this picture in awe…

Juvet-26Similarly to the first project the cladding is made of wood that closely matches the colouring of the surrounding landscape. The architecture is simultaneously contrasting through its geometry, and blending in with the colour and vertical lines of the facade. This one is going on my list of architecture to visit! (Which is getting to be a very long list ;))

Each of these projects demonstrates that you don’t have to have a large cabin to have everything you need in architecture. Views, rich materials, cozy interiors, and minimal impact on the landscape are the concepts that make these places so special.

Thanks for reading!



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