American designer Marc Thorpe has created a simple, off-the-grid residence in Upstate New York that is meant to be present “in perfect balance with its surroundings”. The building was built in the small village of Fremont, which is a two-hour drive from New York City. It is located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains – a popular vacation spot for city dwellers.

Marc Thorpe, who runs the Manhattan studios, designed the cabin as a model for the proposed 30 acre (12 acre) nature retreat. Mixed with the walkways, the development will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom cabins. For the prototype, designers created a one-bedroom version, which totals 500 square feet. The hidden cabins are located in lush wooded areas.

“The building sits quietly among the trees, in perfect balance with its environment,” Thorpe said in a statement.

Thorpe takes 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 of nature. Thorpe’s goal was to create a self-contained building that was a “subtraction exercise”.

“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, this residence is a simple box clad in stained cedar wood. Limited openings enhance the enclosure and privacy of the cabin. The eastern elevation has no glass, while the south and west walls have thin vertical windows. The cabin opens up to the north, where the designer installs glass walls and a hidden deck that subtly offends the veranda of the farmhouse.

“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 includes four different zones – live, cook, eat and sleep. Adjacent to the deck is a lounge area, which flows into the dining and cooking areas. The ensuite core containing the bathroom and storage separates the public zone from the crowded bedrooms.

This building has been designed for off-the-grid living. Composting toilets, rainwater collection systems and wood-burning stoves are some of the features that reduce reliance on public utilities. The design features solar panels that help generate energy and heat water. Candles are the only lighting in it.

“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.”


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