Modern Off-Grid Cabin Built by Father & Son Goes Back to Basics

Video screen capture. Kirsten Dirksen via YouTube

There's a loveliness to pared-down simplicity when we move out to live in nature. Henry David Thoreau praised this return to basics in the seminal Walden, as do many modern environmental thinkers advocating zero waste and living for experiences, not stuff. No wonder people are drawn to things like smaller homes that have a smaller impact, or to creative ways to living life. Wisconsin-based architect William Yudchitz of Revelations Architects/Builders and his son, Daniel, also an architect, designed this lovely modern cabin as an off-grid family getaway, located on the shores of Lake Superior.

According to Dwell, father and son were both passionate about tiny living, but had a difficult time finding a place where they could build a smaller home:

Finding lakeside land proved surprisingly daunting; many idyllic spots, such as Wisconsin’s Door County, have zoning ordinances with minimum size requirements larger than what the Yudchitzes planned to build. In September 2009, after seeing dozens of sites, they landed a 2.78-acre lot with water access on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay for $52,500. It’s 2.6 miles outside Bayfield, Wisconsin, population 530, and about a four-hour drive from each of their homes.
This parcel of land was were they built E.D.G.E (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment -- which Lloyd covered in a previous post

This parcel of land was were they built E.D.G.E (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment -- which Lloyd covered in a previous post), a 340-square-foot home, which is used by the family during winter months. It's located a mere 130 feet away from their latest collaboration, NEST, seen in the photos here, which is a simpler cabin that they use during the summer months.
The cabin measures 9 by 10 feet and 12 feet high, and is clad in a modern-looking black metal roofing with a Kynar coating. The side that faces the lake features glass patio doors, and large, operable wood-slatted doors that can swing out to create a protected porch, or swing in to close off the cabin when it's not inhabited. Above this porch is an observation deck to watch the night sky. There is rainwater collection system, filtered with sand, that feeds an outdoor shower.

Inside, it's simple but seems comfortable; it can sleep a family of four. There's a simple composting toilet and a fold-up Murphy bed hidden away on one wall, and a folding dining table on another.

A gymnasium-style ladder leads up to the 9 by 5-foot loft upstairs, and yet another ladder leads up to the roof observation deck. The awning-style windows open here for some natural ventilation.

NEST is really a lovely, modern cabin that goes back to the basics. In all, Yudchitz estimates that NEST cost between $15,000 and $25,000, using materials salvaged from other projects in addition to newly purchased ones. Father and son built the structure on weekends over a period of about a year, and Yudchitz says that anyone can do it with their plans: “We managed, and we’re not finish carpenters. The only tool we used that required any real skill was a miter box. The Murphy bed was the hardest thing in the place to make.” More over at Dwell and Revelations Architects/Builders .