Architects: DRAA, Magdalena Besomi
- Area: 45 m²
- Year: 2016
Photographs:Felipe Camus, Magdalena Besomi
Text description provided by the architects. Shangri-la Cabin is the first of a series of elevated mountain cabins designed to populate a tall native woodland. Trees dating various centuries can be found in the plot delimited by a 100-meters vertical basalt face and a stream.
The soil is rich in biodiversity but also depicts the battle occurring in the wood; large fallen trees rotting and supporting new life, layers of volcanic ash combine with fallen branches that randomly reshape the flow of water. In wintertime, the canopy thins allowing more light and thick snow to penetrate.
The cabin lifts upwards similar to a tree in the search for light, buttressing on a thin platform, minimising the impact on the ground. The concrete platform presents oblique and opposing angles, detaching from the sturdy and the predictable.
This base is elevated 3 metres above ground where a light prefabricated SIP board system is installed. The system consists of a 212mm polystyrene core, a high level of insulation. In the interior of the cabin the circulation continues upwards with small level differences that categorise each space and nook; the air-lock entrance, the toilet, the room , the kitchenette and finally the sitting room at the end, with a massive glazing facing north just above the canopy.
The owners themselves directed the construction process. They worked with a local team and the extended family that summons on occasions to build as a family activity; assembling metal stairs and railings, installing the built-in furniture and other chores such as charring wood planks. All these tasks learnt through years of DIY experimentation on pod prototypes on land and sea.
In terms of materials, the house is clad inside with timber planks from trees fell on site whereas the exterior is clad with charred pine planks following the yakisugi principle. Shangri-la Cabin is a collaborative project that mingles in the wood with simplicity and respect for nature, surprising the strollers with a bold geometric and structural proposal.