Cabins can make the perfect winter retreat, whether in the snowy mountains of Vermont or the deep woods of Minnesota. Their iconic shape and log-based architecture have become synonymous with the American Dream of one day owning an independent little homestead in the wild. We've all seen this classic wilderness imagery on maple syrup bottles, in children's toys and even in cartoons.
This iconic image, so clearly etched into our cultural memory, is deployed with a subtle touch in Nickish Sano Walder's small concrete home in Graubünden, Switzerland. Entitled Refugi Lieptgas, the house was made by casting concrete using a board-formed technique with the walls of a log cabin instead of traditional 2x4 forms. The result is a negative impression of the log cabin's irregular, natural construction.
The concrete alters a familiar image while maintaining its recognizable character, inverting the shape and changing the material while stripping the house of the horizontal striation of the logs. The result is a monochrome, monolithic imprint of a cabin, like a toy that has been molded out of plastic, rendering it a shadow of the original.
The house is also in the same valley as Peter Zumthor's famous St. Benedict Chapel and Therme Vals, sharing an affection for warm, natural materials and negative impressions. His Bruder Klaus Field Chapel in Mechernich, Germany was constructed by erecting a tipi with some 150 logs and covering it with layers of concrete. Once built, the logs were burned, leaving a similar striated texture with burn marks on the inside of the remaining concrete shell.
The log cabin house also features a cave-like interior with smooth, natural concrete walls that contrast with the large boulders outside of the large plate-glass windows. With its striking yet intimate interior, who wouldn't want to vacation in a Brutalist log cabin?