Mountain Refuge is a Prefabricated Wooden Object of Desire

A lovely little design " inspired by traditional archetypes, evoked through contemporary principles."

Mountain Refuge
Mountain Refuge.

Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi  

A few years ago I wrote a post with New Year's resolutions to define my writing on Treehugger, "to separate what is fad and fashion from what is really sustainable and green, what really matters if we are going to build a better, low carbon world." Resolutions included "Got a tiny home? Tell us where it's parked" because it's one thing to design one, another to figure out the rules, the water, the waste, the installation. I concluded: "This year I resolve not to be seduced by objects of desire; it is time for real sustainability."

Mountain Refuge with fire
Mountain Refuge. Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi  

Fortunately, that was one of the posts that didn't make the transition to the new revamped Treehugger site, so I am free to be seduced by renderings (I am always seduced by gorgeous renderings, and these are some of the best I have seen in a while) of an imaginary tiny house on imaginary sites. I am also writing at a time when so many people have been trapped inside looking at the same walls, and really might like to look at objects of desire. Therefore I present for your consideration the Mountain Refuge, designed by two young Italian architects, Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi.

The Mountain Refuge is inspired by traditional archetypes, evoked through contemporary principles. A space in which human's origins, his connection with nature and history can be relived. The idea came from traditional mountain shelters of the Alps. The cabin we propose is a wooden structure composed by two modules, for a total size of about 25 square meters [270 SF]. Optionally, an additional module of 12.5 square meters can be added (for example, you can make a bigger living, or add a bedroom), reaching a total size of up to 37 square meters [1475 SF]. The standard 2-module overall dimensions are 7.40 x 3.75 meters [24.2' x 12.3'].
Interior in the evening
Interior of the Mountain Refuge, evening.  Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi 

Construction is of plywood, "coated with black pine tar, giving the black-ish warm look and water-proofing." Services like "heating system, water, electricity and insulation, is depending on the client's needs, environmental properties, and available on-site connections."

The video is also seductive, I would have loved to have had the tools and the skills to do this when I was an architect; George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick couldn't do this back then.

Mountain Refuge bathroom
Mountain Refuge bathroom.  Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi 

Gnocci and Danesi sort of explain how the electrical services and plumbing might work:

  • For thousands of years, people used to collect rain water. With today's technology, rain water can be collected, filtered and distributed in our cabin from a water tank underneath the deck
  • The sloped roof can host photovoltaic panels/glass to provide electricity and hot water. Batteries can be placed beneath the cabin's floor, which is actually a raised-floor with a 40 cm gap beneath it
  • Chemical toilets are an option *but nature is an option as well*

The nature option is, I suppose, either an outhouse or pooping in the woods.

Kitchen in shadow
Kitchen in shadow.  Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi 

The Mountain Refuge is not a real building, it does not have a manufacturer, the designers say, "We are currently discussing with prefab construction companies from US, Europe, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, to be able to build and deliver the Refuge, at competitive prices. We are a tiny-house startup, and we are doing our best."

Interior fire place
View of Mountain Refuge fireplace. Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi  

Indeed they are, and they are doing it right, going virtual and not investing serious money to build a prototype that costs even more serious money to drag around. I did that, only to find that potential customers couldn't afford it and had nowhere to put it. The tiny house biz is a long slog, especially when it starts at $45,479 (€40,000) for 270 square feet without land, interior furnishing, foundation work (if required), on-site service connections and surveys. And don't forget delivery! This is not outrageous; that's what it costs. It makes it very hard to start a business.

Interior daytime
Mountain Refuge interior, daytime.  Massimo Gnocchi and Paolo Danesi 

In the meantime, please click those images to enlarge (another new Treehugger feature!) admire a lovely bit of design, and be seduced by this object of desire. I was. See more at the lovely Mountain Refuge website.