This Secluded Micro Cabin Perches Lightly in the Brazilian Forest

Built with materials carried to the site by hand, Chalet M is a 270-square-foot cabin that treads lightly on its woodland site.

The top priorities for Chalet M—a small, plywood cabin in the suburban area of São Lourenço da Serra in São Paulo, Brazil—were to ensure the lightest possible footprint on its forest site, and to maximize the experience of being one with nature for its owners.

The shell of the cabin was constructed with thin sections of hardwood, then coated with plain OSB plywood and a Tyvek air and water barrier. Metallic corrugated sheets form the outer layer.

Located in a forested, countryside area near a lake and vegetable garden, the cabin was designed by São Paulo architect Silvia Acar as a simple space for sleeping, cooking, and reconnecting with nature. Raised upon six cylindrical, concrete columns sunk seven to 10 feet into the ground, the wooden cabin rests lightly on the terrain without disrupting the soil. 

An Indusparquet wood deck extends into the forest.

The volume sits on a prefabricated fiberglass box base over concrete columns.

Because the site is remote and not easily accessible via existing roads or trails, Acar designed the components of the cabin to be lightweight enough to transported without the use of vehicles. 

Acar choose a site with valley and mountain views, with fewer large trees, so no felling would be necessary.

Reka pendant lamps hang from the ceiling.

The fully glazed facade physically and visually connects the interiors to the natural environment.

"Since access to the terrain is through nature, and we didn't want to open any streets from the road to the house, everything had to be light, in order to be carried out to the site by hand," says Acar. "In order to not destroy nature or any trees, the idea was to use no trucks, cranes, bulldozers, or other heavy machinery."

The interiors are clad in thermoacoustic insulation and Paricá plywood coated with water-based resin. 

All the loose furniture was also built with Parica plywood.

The 270-square-foot cabin was built with hardwood and corrugated steel sheets, and includes approximately 76 square feet of outdoor deck. Its Paricá plywood-clad interiors fit a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette. 

The bedroom doubles as the living area.

A compact closet blends in with the plywood walls.

The front wall of the cabin consists of four full-height, glazed windows, two of which can have panes that can be retracted upwards to open the interiors out to the deck and surrounding nature. 

A slender window in the bedroom looks out to the trees.

It is uncommon to build homes without wet cement in Brazil, so constructing Chalet M was quite an achievement for those involved in the project.

"My vision was for a cabin wrapped in light plywood inside, and a nature retreat that had the feel and scent of the woodlands around it," says Acar. 

Cementitious sheets were used for the wet areas in the bathroom.

Chalet M sectional plan

Chalet M floor plan

Related Reading: A Yoga Teacher’s Tiny Home on Wheels Goes Off-Grid in Greece

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Silvia Acar Arquitetura

Builder: Engeark Construtora 

Woodwork: Stalla Móveis 


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