Seriously minimalist engineering makes this "family retreat" light and cheap

exterior of cabin
© Mikael Olsson via Designboom

Looking at this “family retreat” near Stockholm shown on Designboom, there are a lot of reasons to ask “why is this on TreeHugger?” Designed by Arrhov Frick, it is a 40 m2 (430 SF) ground floor with 20 m2 (215 SF) loft, almost totally enclosed in glass.

But the really interesting part is how little stuff actually goes into it. Designboom notes that “the build-up relied heavily on simple wood construction techniques due to the house’s site, everything from the weight of the material and methods of assembly had to be taken into consideration.” It was also built to a tight budget.

And it is incredibly light, so light that I am impressed that it stays up in a breeze. Really; Designboom notes that it is "nestled among stone cliffs, wind bent pine trees" Wind is powerful and a big deal in design; buildings have to be engineered to resist racking, where squares want to turn into parallelograms, or slide off their foundations. In a normal cabin or building, the plywood sheathing provides the bracing, but here there is nothing but glass, so the architect has added exposed diagonal braces running even in front of the windows.

In a normal building with traditional platform framing, the floor would sit on posts and there would be serious diagonal bracing running between the floor and the posts; in my own cabin, the engineers insisted on 3- 2x8s at each column. Here, because the columns run continuously, they don’t need any at all, although there must have been some serious engineering consideration of how slender those columns could be, and of the design of those metal brackets that connect it all together.

Of course I have to complain that there is so much glass! This would not be fun to heat, and even in Sweden might well get uncomfortable on a hot sunny day, but hey, that’s why you have a big porch. And of course, many readers object to us ever showing sinful second homes.

But it is such a remarkable bit of minimalist design and even more remarkable bit of minimalist structural engineering.

Lots more photos on Designboom

Seriously minimalist engineering makes this "family retreat" light and cheap
And why is this on TreeHugger?

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