News Home & Design Minimalist Off-Grid Island Cabin Collects Sunlight and Water This tiny dwelling in the bush pares it down to the basics: sun, water, fire, and lots of fresh air. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated June 23, 2021 04:04PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Never Too Small Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive There is often a lot of romanticism surrounding the idea of living in the wilderness, thanks to the cultural impact of figures like Henry David Thoreau. Despite all the hyped-up mystique, there is something truly profound about living a more self-sufficient life out in the wild and synchronizing oneself to the rhythms of the rising of the sun and the turning of the stars. Of course, like Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond, that natural synchronization can be made all the more comfortable in an off-grid cabin, such as this minimalist hideaway on Bruny Island, located off the coast of Tasmania, Australia. Created by Hobart-based architecture firm Maguire + Devin, the cabin functions as a retreat for a client who is a lover of nature and music. Packed with integrated furniture that is built into the frame of the small cabin, the dwelling is intimately connected to the daily routines of retreating into the wild bush. Here's a short tour of The Bruny Island Hideaway from Never Too Small: Never Too Small Clad with zincalume metal and bushfire-resistant timber, the 300-square-foot cabin is located on a 99-acre forested property, and is intended as a holiday retreat, explain the architects: "This off-grid cabin is an escape from the high stress of our client’s busy work life. Born in Taiwan, she spent her childhood in traditional Japanese houses (built during occupation). Out of this grew a love for highly crafted minimalist design. Our brief was to capture that and design a building as a piece of furniture with everything she needs built in. The only furniture allowed was a low table and mattress on the sleeping loft." Thus, the cabin is designed as a container of sorts for the client's favorite hobbies, which include reading, playing violin, stargazing, and of course, enjoying the outdoors, sometimes with friends who might come to camp overnight on the sprawling property. Never Too Small The cabin has been oriented to maximize sun exposure from the north, in order to better supply the sun-collecting solar panels on the roof, which power the cabin in its entirety. Never Too Small The entry from the north side of the building is marked with a low pergola built out of wood, which not only provides storage of firewood but also a bit of visual privacy from the road. Never Too Small To connect it further with its surroundings, the cabin has two decks on its east and west sides: one each for the sunrise and sunset. Never Too Small Once the enormous sliding doors are pushed open, there is a clear line of sight from one end to the other, which opens up the interior to the outdoors. The architects also say: "Translucent glass in the sliding doors references the light qualities of Japanese rice paper screens, creating a sense of enclosure and privacy at night. They also prevent birds, including the endangered swift parrot, from attempting to fly through the building and striking the glass." Never Too Small Perhaps best of all, there is a bathtub hidden on one end of the decks, providing a lovely spot for an open-air soak. The cabin has been designed to harvest as much rainwater as possible, which is stored in underground tanks. Never Too Small The cabin's interior has been built out of Baltic pine, which helps to create a clean, light yet warm atmosphere. Never Too Small The main living space includes a daybed located in front of a window that offers views out to the trees and is elevated on a platform that has storage hidden underneath. Not only can one eat, read and lounge here, it also functions as a place for guests to sleep if need be. Never Too Small The kitchenette is opposite the daybed and includes a sink, small refrigerator, a gas cooktop, and a Nectre Bakers Oven, which functions as both an alternative cooktop, wood stove, and bread oven. Never Too Small Off to the side, there a counter for doing laundry; there is yet another sink (as required by local building codes) and combination washer-dryer here. Never Too Small Up the ladder is the zen-like loft, which has a long window to one side, a glass railing to the other. Never Too Small There is a long, large skylight above—perfect for pondering the stars on those dark nights. Never Too Small One enters the bathroom either from a sliding door from the inside, or from the outside, via a concealed door located right beside the main door. The idea here was to allow guests who are camping outside access to the bathroom, without disturbing anyone who might be sleeping inside the dwelling. Never Too Small This is no over-the-top modern bathroom, however; the freestanding washbasin and open shower is a nice touch of simplicity that fits well with the rest of the bush-friendly cabin. Never Too Small Overall, the pared-down cabin functions like a well-designed instrument that aids its occupants in harmonizing their daily lives with natural rhythms and routines. To see more, visit Maguire + Devin.