Hotels seem to be inevitably at odds with nature, a symbol of industrialized and commercial tourism. Hence the oft-repeated binary of hotels and campsites. Yet in recent years, these categories are beginning to become less defined, as the hotel industry expands into new places and contemporary architects are looking to new sources of inspiration, in order to transform and vary the hotel experience.
The architects on this list look to hermitic spaces, to huts, cabins and tree houses, as precedents for their designs. These are structures which are inherently made for remote locations, for privacy and for utilitarian purposes. As a result, most of the designs rely on prefabricated systems and efficient construction processes, optimized for isolated sites. In addition, these hotels are more decentralized than conventional hotel architecture.
Though these huts may be built in clusters, each are designed to provide residents with discrete and intimate experiences. These conditions limit the projects in some ways, but provide unique opportunities in other ways. The use of prefabrication and modular systems allows for seriality and scalability, making these hotels not only practical for their environment but flexible and adaptable to many other settings.
The prefabricated structures of the Pedras Salgadas Eco-Resort integrate with their forest surroundings through varying floor plans that wrap around and weave through nearby trees. The huts blend into their setting thanks to slate and wood-paneled façades that reference the geology and ecology of the forest.
Inspired by treehouses, the Tree Snake Houses are suspended above the ground on long stilts and accessed through bridge-like ramps. The design enables the structures to rise into the forest without altering or damaging the natural landscape below. By controlling points of entry, the ramps also allowed the architects to carefully frame how the structures are approached and entered, enabling them to consciously compose views of the surrounding landscape.
Olson Kundig’s Rolling Huts allow visitors to experience a Washington mountain valley from rustic wooden cabins, offering the privacy and intimacy of hermitic architecture, while creating a small community amongst the collection of structures. The project also updates traditional cabin design with clean lines and a sloping, cantilevered roof, offering the warmth and comfort of west coast modernism while maintaining the utilitarian character of the cabin form.
Each of the Dor huts takes the form of a windswept wooden cube, characterized by a dramatic slant and wooden slats that extend beyond the structure like an unfinished frame. Yet these features are not signs of dilapidation, but rather deliberate designs to transform the simple huts into expressive structures, reaching for the sea and framing the views of residents inside.
The luxury cabins of Relax Park Verholy are sleek, minimal structures that owe more to European modernism than to vernacular forest architecture. Yet they respond to their surroundings in both placement — pine trees literally rise out of attached terraces — and use of materials, a combination of exposed wood and glazed siding allowing the structure to blend in by both resembling and reflecting the forest around it.
Located on a remote coast of Norway, the Manshausen Island Resort is designed to give residents an immediate and intimate engagement with the natural landscape. The huts are situated to create unique and uninterrupted views of the region, with each structure pushed past the terrain and hanging over water. Expansive windows enhance these views while emphasizing the feeling that residents are suspended in space.
Dwarfed by nearby boulders, mini for-4 packs a lot of details and thoughtful design into compact forms. Built primarily off-site with locally sourced materials, the huts demonstrate models for environmentally considerate architectural processes, while making it more feasible for the structures to be installed in a remote setting. Though the buildings are clustered together, they are carefully placed to offer privacy and avoid intersecting sightlines.