Aamodt Plumb Architects' SMOKEHOUSE, a collaboration with felt artist Rebecca Howdeshell, was one of three winning entries to The Warming Huts v.2013: An Art + Architecture Competition on Ice.
In responding to the harsh winter conditions of The River Trail, the design of the SMOKEHOUSE uses form and materiality to provide as well as signify shelter and warmth. The charred wood exterior alludes to the fire within while rendering it resistant to fire, rot and pests. The interior is lined with industrial wool felt, also naturally fire resistant, and provides both insulation and wind break. The felt is shingled and some of the panels are embossed by artist Rebecca Howdeshell with prehistoric imagery from the area dating back 6000 years. The primitive structure has a single small entrance and a vent hole in the roof that acts like a chimney.
The elemental, pure form of the hut, almost the very symbol of home, rendered in the stark black of charred wood, is nestled in soft white snow. Inside, layers of thick ivory felt line the walls and seating, creating a nest-like interior reminiscent of ancient gathering places strewn with animal pelts. On closer inspection, one discovers the felt layers embossed with delicate patterns and textures, a subtle sanctification of intimate space. The room has a unique sound, or absence thereof: it is silent, like the sound of new snow on the street.