Twin modern cabins help nurture a close relationship with nature


Our built environment structures the way we interact with our environment. For instance, living in a completely enclosed box-like structure with no windows would likely cause us to feel less connected with our natural surroundings, or lose track of the sun's progress throughout the day.

To nurture an existing close relationship with the land, Oregon architect Erin Moore of FLOAT created this pair of modern cabins for a client living in Hawaii, seen over on Dezeen. It's outdoor living at its best, with one cabin for sleeping and working that's more sheltered, while the other is open to the elements, and is intended for cooking and lounging around. Moore explains:

The Outside House is a place to live outside. Two small pavilions shape the basics of daily life and structure an intentional relationship with the land. In keeping with the client's stewardship of the land, the pavilions are designed to be minimally connected to the ground and to be demountable.


It might not be immediately apparent, but the steel-framed structures are placed amongst a solidified lava formation that's been around for 300 years or so, a testament to living somewhat dangerously, a few centuries late. The more enclosed cabin is covered in wood and polycarbonate, and inside it's quite cozy and warm, thanks to the interior wooden panelling. There's a bed, a desk and a reading spot in here. This cabin is oriented in a way that allows the client to initially watch the sun rise over the landscape, yet it stays cool as this spot becomes more shaded during the day.


Topped with a large sloping roof, the other cabin consists of a walled unit that houses the outdoor kitchen and shower inside. It also includes a glorious terrace, which is open to a full view of the Pacific Ocean.


This design recently won first prize with the Building Voices competition, where the architect wrote that:

Living outside has health benefits for people of all ages: lowered stress, improved circadian rhythms, increased physical activity, exposure to plant and soil microbiota, and access to local plant foods. Possible models for land stewardship for urban and agricultural sites include habitat restoration at all scales, community land trusts, conservation easements, and permaculture.

The Outside House can be fitted with rainwater collection, solar panels, and a composting toilet for complete self-sufficiency. Integration into an ecological whole has immeasurable value.

These structures help to manifest and strengthen the long relationship the client has had with the land, says Moore:

Her earliest memories of the place are of crawling through lava tubes near the now-endangered wiliwilis – Hawaiian trees historically used for canoe floats. The unbuilt areas of the Outside House — lichen on the lava, a curved rock wall, a growing endemic Mamane tree – are the essence of daily living in this place and what the client values most.


It's an approach that respects the land and a mutual relationship; architecture here is seen as a mediator for this relationship, rather than something that is to be imposed. To see more, visit FLOAT.

Tags: Architecture | Hawaii | Small Spaces


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