When the client’s first brought Uhlik Architekti to the centre of their forested land between central and south Bohemia near Prague, Czech Republic, they where amazed first at the isolated location and second at the beauty of the surrounding fields, woods and meadows – especially the many boulders scattered randomly throughout the landscape. The client was hoping the architects could build for him an escape from his demanding work, one that would provide shelter from the unpredictable weather and one that would provide safe storage for any items left within the cabin when unattended. Immediately won over by the magic of the site Uhlik Architecti not only decided to design the hideaway, but also to help build it by hand and because the boulders left such a strong impression on the architects they decided to incorporate one of them in the final silhouette of the cabin, offering it not only a place to perch, but also an elevated place to view the surrounding treescape.
Although one of the important features of the cabin was to have large expanses of window glazings for the client to enjoy the nature outdoors – without actually being outdoors if the weather wasn’t co-operative, the cabin still needed to present a contained profile when empty. The architects solved this conflicting dilemma by creating a solid facade that has numerous operable areas – one by a pulley and another by a hand operated winch – that when open expose walls and doors of glass, meaning that even when the shutters are opened, the cabin can still be closed – or not.
The cabin is built with a joist construction of wood harvested from naturally fallen trees from the surrounding area and then built by local carpenters. The exterior cladding is rabbet jointed wood panels and the overlapping seams allow the cabin to present a smooth profile of wood that has been charred. The smooth profile and the charred wood transform the cabin into a deep shadow amongst the trees.
The final design has a very small footprint of only 3.1m x 5.8m which rests on the forest ground on one end and on a giant boulder on the other end. The space between the two resting spots allows nature to travel underneath the cabin uninterrupted. On top of the cabin is an asphalt roof secured by a steel L profile which also acts as a rail for attaching the pulley wheel. A blacksmith from a neighboring village prepared all of the specs for the steel components.
When the shutters are open, the end wall above the boulder becomes a fantastic viewing station.
The entry to the cabin is not on the other end but on the side and features a shutter that opens up to become a porch shelter – which is a pretty smart dual purpose design feature.
Directly across from the main entry, another shutter opens to reveal a glass back door right next to the fireplace. This second entry makes the transfer of firewood stacked outside so much easier to accomplish.
There is another window on the other side of the fireplace and deep multi functional stairs that lead up to the view station on top of the boulder. The interior is a low cost simple design of oriented strand boards that have been clear coated. The only divergence from this material is the fireplace and the shutter crank on the wall.
Each of the 4 steps can be used for sitting and storage with each tread lifting up to reveal spacious compartments that can hold all sorts of items. A double bed can also be created by turning one of the benches over.
This plan view shows how the lowest step becomes bench seating on one end of a table.
The site plan shows just how remote this cabin really is. Without the red circle you would have difficulty locating it.
Photography by Jan Kudej