Urban Cabin was designed for a retired couple interested in downsizing and simplifying their lives. The couple lived on the site for 26 years, creating and nurturing their private yet urban sanctuary. The challenge was to design an appropriate response to the ideals of living with less in a neighborhood which is prone to excess. Conceptually, the design was inspired by a picnic shelter in a forest. The ideas of a primitive picnic shelter gave direction to both the building’s form and minimal program requirements. All program elements were reduced of excesses and distilled down to the elemental.
The house is composed of a simple sheltering roof, supported on the east by a solid wall, which protects the inhabitants from a busy public park. Informed by the topography, the house was slightly recessed into the landscape, engaging a visual connection to the site. The remaining west-facing elevations are composed of windows and doors which embrace the surrounding garden and ponds. The deep overhangs at the ends of the long roof create an extension of space beyond the glass enclosure. Terraces are tucked under the shed roof to reinforce a connection to the beautiful landscape beyond. The exterior siding on the long east wall continues through the interior spaces, and with the minimal window details, blurs the boundaries of inside space.