An Architect’s Cabin Rises From the Ashes After a Devastating Forest Fire
It’s as stark as it gets. Inside, you’ll find a counter for food prep, a tiny bit of storage, a few modern chairs, a flashlight, one wood stove—and "a nice stash of gin," says owner and project architect Eric Logan.
Tucked in the forest of Casper Mountain in Wyoming, The Phoenix is his primitive, two-room shelter where you won’t find any bedrooms or bathrooms, let alone running water or electricity. "It’s more about the really raw experience in the forest," says Logan, principal at Carney Logan Burke Architects.
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That experience—that connection—to the forest is significant for Logan, particularly after a brush fire in 2013 destroyed dozens of buildings, including his family cabin. After the devastation, Logan and his sisters rebuilt, reinventing a structure for the family’s modern-day needs. The result is a stark contrast to the original 1970s cabin, which had become a quaint repository for antiques and old furniture. Maintaining integrity of the structure’s now-delicate environment, Logan chose a more austere approach for the project. "The minimalist quality of the architecture reinforces the notion that it’s not about stuff; it’s about place and about the experience in forest," says Logan.
Built on the edge of where the former cabin stood, the project is inspired by its surroundings. Charred trees from the forest took new life as the cabin’s post-and-beam structure, helping with the continuity, and the inside surfaces are either raw plywood or galvanized metal, resulting in a utilitarian feel and no maintenance needs. The low-impact project rests upon the slope ever so slightly, with just eight points where the shelter touches the forest clearing. "It was about trying to maximize the use of the disturbances that had already been created by the site, but improving on what we had there," says Logan.
"The minimalist quality of the architecture reinforces the notion that it’s not about stuff; it’s about place and about the experience in forest."
—Eric Logan, owner and architect
Today, the structure serves less as storage and more as living space: a picnic spot frequently used by parents, a rest area between rock climbing, and ultimately, a place to detach with technology and connect with people and place. Says Logan, "It’s a nice addition to this part of the world our family grew to know and love so well."