There’s an undeniable appeal to a cabin set in the back country. Cities are about constraints, whereas the wilderness is about unfettered freedom. The developers of Summit Powder Mountain, a planned residential community in the Wasatch mountains, recognized that there’s demand for remote retreats, and wanted to find a way to design them in such a way that they’d tread as lightly on the land as possible. Architect Srdan Nad won the international competition to devise a conceptual prototype.
“Most of us live in urban areas where walls, ceilings, fences, hedges, and roads define our personal habitable space,” Nad says. “Even for those that have a small garden, there is no true contact with the nature. Everything is urbanized, manmade. The biggest challenge is realizing a vision. How can we build a sustainable community high up in the mountain and avoid the feeling of an ordinary cookie-cutter suburban community?”
Nad’s angular prototype blends the form of a traditional American frontier cabin with the abstraction of a tent. The structure rests atop a platform to minimize site impact, and calls prefabricated cross-laminated timber panels that are fitted with plumbing and electrical infrastructure, to speed up construction time. (It’s a similar system that’s used in passive house construction, and commands a high level of thermal insulation.)
“He really appealed to our jury’s sense of future nostalgia, blending heritage forms with site-specific and sustainability-focused building methods to create a cabin that feels both harmonious and visually striking in its environment,” says Sam Arthur, design director at Summit.
With expansive-floor-to-ceiling glass walls and soaring ceilings, Nad’s design proves cabin fever is communicable.