Unplug Like Patrick Star in One of These Rock-Like Prefab Cabins in Rural Hungary

Design firm Hello Wood wants to generate new interest in the picturesque Balaton Uplands with a series of monolithic structures.

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Project Details:

Location: Balaton Uplands National Park, Csopak, Hungary

Architect: Hello Wood

Footprint: 388 square feet each

From the Architect: "Resolving the problems of the shrinking, aging population of villages with few job opportunities is one of the challenges Hungary needs to tackle. Developing tourism in rural areas, attracting visitors, creating jobs for local people, and boosting the local economy can be key to solving this issue.

Hello Wood has always been interested in contributing to local communities through architecture and the built environment; its education program 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 two-hectare plot of land in the breathtaking Balaton Uplands as the venue for its international summer school and festival.

Later, the studio sought a new function with the aim of contributing to the revitalization of the area: It launched a development program that respects and values the tranquillity and natural environment of the surrounding villages, while reviving 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 with TreeHouses, creator of the widely popular cabins in Noszvaj, they created unique "rock" houses in Csóromfölde.

The Hello Wood design team 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—evoking 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 unique shade and metallic sheen of the paneling. 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 cozy space for two. The 21-by-15-square-meter cabins have a living room with a bed, kitchen furniture, built-in wardrobe, and dining table, and 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. 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 bed.

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 shape required innovative solutions to ensure that the irregular sides precisely fit together and that all structural elements stayed hidden under the cladding of the roof and wall—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."

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