While I was with Architectural Workshop (AW) we were approached by a very close friend’s brother who wanted to build a small cabin in the mountains of southeastern Wyoming. The zoning of the site required that the cabin be 1 1/2 story high (essentially meaning that the area of the 2nd floor could be no more than half of the area of the 1st floor). Our client wanted something that he could construct himself, and he wanted the design to take advantage of the view facing northeast.
The cabin was to be a weekend for the client as well as for family and friends. The size of the cabin was kept to a small size at just over 800 square feet on the first floor. The image above shows the proposed cabin as if you were facing due west, so the long axis of the building is running from the southwest to the northeast. This allowed the design to maximize the views to the northeast from the public spaces of the cabin as well as the 2nd floor bedroom.
The layout of the cabin is really quite simple. When you enter the front door all of the more public spaces (and predominant views) are to the right. The more private spaces including the bathroom, closet, and storage room (above the bathroom and the closet) are placed at the other end of the cabin. The hallway leading to these rooms has a built-in bench at the end so that it could be used as a mudroom.
Because the orientation of the cabin was focused more on the exterior views the amount of daylight coming into the cabin was somewhat compromised. If you look at the floor plan you’ll notice that the exterior walls running the long side of the cabin aren’t quite parallel. The exterior wall facing southeast (the wall with the front door) was slightly rotated so that it faced more southward. This allows a little more light into the cabin, and it allows the living room to become larger and the bathroom and closet to be smaller. There are some windows along the northwest side of the house, but these windows were kept to a smaller size.
This cabin design is something I created on my own based on the requirements of the client and zoning. The design incorporated the need to frame the predominant views and its simple layout would benefit the requirement to have two to four people build it by hand. The sustainable attributes include the placement of windows to better allow natural daylight, the proposed siding would be a fiber cement siding (typically 30 year warranty on most, does not rot, and is non-flammable which is great for a mountain forest locale), and would have a series of solar panels supplying most of its power needs. The heating would be provided by a wood burning stove located within the living room of the cabin (also a client requirement, and is incredibly efficient for heating in such a small space).