The design cabins of Hello Wood and TreeHouses were built in a hidden corner of the Balaton Uplands.
Resolving the problems of the shrinking, ageing population of villages with few job opportunities is one of the challenges Hungary needs to tackle. The development of tourism in rural, peripheral areas, attracting visitors, creating jobs for local people and boosting the local economy can be key to this issue.
Hello Wood has always been interested in contributing to local communities through architecture and the built environment; its education programme focuses on improving the quality of life of people living in small villages in Hungary, involving locals in their projects, and listening to their needs. In 2016, as part of its educational activities, the studio purchased a 2-hectare plot of land in the breathtaking Balaton Uplands as the venue for Hello Wood's international summer school and festival. Surrounded by rolling hills and close to Kapolcs, flocks of a nearby farmstead had been feeding in Csóromfölde for centuries. The programme of Hello Wood has breathed new life into the old settlement: even a temporary village was constructed by architecture students, within the framework of the international summer camps. Later, the studio sought a new function with the aim of contributing to the revitalisation of the area: it has launched a development programme that respects and values the tranquillity and natural environment of the surrounding villages, but at the same time revives a region that only comes to life from time to time, even in the summer season. Assuming a new role as an „archi-entrepreneur” i.e., an amalgam of an architect and real estate developer, Hello Wood decided to design the accommodation themselves. Partnering up with TreeHouses, creator of the widely popular cabins in Noszvaj, they have created unique “Rock” houses in Csóromfölde. Hidden in the grove, 6 unique cabins and a reception building were designed and built by Hello Wood and are operated by TreeHouses.
“Over the years, we have grown very fond of the area where we had held our camps,” says András Huszár, co-founder and CEO of Hello Wood. “It was clear, though, that once the summer festivals were over, Csóromfölde and the surrounding villages were abandoned for most of the year. From now on, we are going to be able to provide work for locals not only at the construction site but, through the operative tasks, throughout the whole year.”
The Hello Wood design team has created buildings that reverberate the magic of the age-old settlement surrounded by farmland and blend seamlessly with nature. The monolithic character of the cabins that evokes giant runestones is enhanced by the building masses opening only at the terrace and the entrance: the homogeneous, sculptural form is not interrupted by any windows, doors, or staircases. Irregular planes and vertices define a shape resembling a polished stone, which is made even more distinctive by the panelling, its unique shade and metallic sheen. Contrasting the grey shell, the golden brown of the terrace and interior is revealed like the inside of a cracked geode.
The Rocks provide a comfortable and cosy space for two. The 21+15 square metre cabins have a living room with a bed, kitchen furniture, built-in wardrobe and dining table, a bathroom with a double shower and a panoramic infrared sauna. To give it a spa touch, a large hot tub is built into the spacious, covered terrace, which is separated only by a glass window from the sauna that has direct access to the shower. To ensure an intimate and carefree experience, the cabins are positioned facing away from each other, looking at the surrounding fields and rolling hills. Guests can enjoy the panoramic views from the terrace – even from the hot tub or the glass-walled sauna as well as from the bed.
The Rock cabins have a clean, block-like shape that follows organically from the environment while sustaining complex architectural solutions. When designing the structure, the aim was to prefabricate as many elements as possible – including its lattice girder, which was assembled off-site and then positioned by crane after delivery. The polygonal, three-dimensional shape required innovative solutions to ensure that the irregular sides precisely fit together and that all structural elements stay hidden under the cladding of the roof and wall, made of the very same material – creating a compact overall effect.
While the cabins have a form of free sculptural bodies, the structure and the cladding make them modern houses that can be heated and cooled with minimal energy consumption. The living space is elevated from the ground; below this space, you can find the technical systems, and above a roof that is constructed to balance interior temperatures.
Hello Wood believes that its Rocks can become an architectural landmark capable of attracting visitors to the Kapolcs area in all seasons.