All Shapes and Sizes:
Downsizing is relative. Some consider a reduction to a 2000 square feet home a big change. While others have never lived in anything that large. So, one person’s idea of smaller living may be quite different for another. But there are as many plans for a beautiful smaller home as there are people to dream them up. I’ll bet living more simply is a goal most of us would like to achieve.
I believe in this time of COVID, working from home and getting away from dense urban centers, is providing the tipping point to inspire many people to living rurally in smaller home. Due to the big move to cities over the past few decades, rural villages have been waiting for people with creative vision and city-sized pocket books to come and breath new life and love into their older neglected homes.
Less materials are produced and less ends up in the landfill when an older home is re-purposed and re-loved. But, renovating isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Building new can be ultra efficient in both building materials and in livable design when kept small and efficient. And building new in a rural setting brings a new sense of excitement and pride of place to the local citizens. Today, I’m delighted to present a simply beautiful home designed by architect, Marc Thorpe. One of the features I love about this design is it’s flexibility to be built to suit different lifestyles and needs. For example, more windows could be added, the bathroom could be accessible from the bedroom side, make the space a little longer and the kitchen can stretch out in front of the bath to create more closet space behind it.
I sincerely hope we’re at the beginning of a new and lasting trend to live more sustainably and simply so we can all focus on the important things in life.
Edifice by Marc Thorpe is a black off-the-grid cabin in Upstate New York
Edifice was built in the small village of Fremont, which is a two-hour drive from New York City. The town is tucked into the scenic Catskill Mountains – a popular getaway for urban dwellers.
Marc Thorpe, who runs an eponymous Manhattan studio, designed the cabin to serve as a model for a proposed, 30-acre (12-hectare) nature retreat. Laced with walking trails, the development would encompass a mix of one- and two-bedroom cabins.
For the prototype, the designer created a one-bedroom version, which totals 500 square feet (46 square metres). The discreet cabin is nestled into a lush, wooded site.
“The building sits quietly among the trees, in perfect balance with its environment,” Thorpe said in a statement.
Thorpe took cues from 19th-century writers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, who were important figures in the transcendentalist philosophical movement, which championed individualism and an appreciation for nature. Thorpe’s aim was to create a self-sustaining building that was an “exercise in reduction”.
“The cabin stands as an example of introverted architecture or neo-transcendentalism,” Thorpe said. “This is exhibited through its physical isolation, essentialist programming and self-sustaining infrastructure.”
Rectangular in plan, the dwelling is a simple box clad in stained cedar. Limited openings enhance the cabin’s sense of enclosure and privacy.
The east elevation has no glazing, while the south and west walls have thin, vertical windows. The cabin opens up on the north, where the designer incorporated a glass wall and a recessed deck that subtly alludes to a farmhouse porch.
“Upon approach, the building offers no clear entry, as it remains undefined until physically engaged,” the designer said. “As in art, one must move around the work to understand it in relation to its context, revealing more of itself over time.”
Inside, the cabin encompasses four distinct zones – live, cook, dine and sleep. Adjacent to the deck is the lounge area, which flows into the dining and cooking space.
A service core containing a bathroom and storage separates the public zone from a compact bedroom.
The building has been designed for off-the-grid living. A composting toilet, a rainwater collection system and a wood-burning stove are among the features that reduce reliance on public utilities. The design also features solar panels that help generate energy and heat water. Lighting is meant to be provided by candles.
“This architecture is systemically connected to the environment through sustainable technology and infrastructure,” Thorpe said. “The Edifice is an architecture of responsibility and respect for our environment and ourselves.”
Photography is by Marco Petrini.
Architecture: Marc Thorpe Design
Contractor: Beaverkill Construction
Client: Marc Thorpe and Claire Pijoulat