Commune With Nature in This Enchanting Timber Cabin in Holland
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Commune With Nature in This Enchanting Timber Cabin in Holland

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By Lucy Wang
Nestled near a forest in northern Holland, a tiny prefab cabin offers city dwellers respite in nature.

Beloved for its bucolic landscape and laid-back charm, the rural village of Slootdorp in northern Holland has been made all the more enchanting by the arrival of this tiny timber cabin—and it's available for rent. The prefab shelter is located at Het bos roept! (The Forest Calls!), an eco campground founded by Gidus Hopmans and Sasja Wiegersma.

Hopmans and Sasja asked their longtime friends Farah Agarwal and Arjen Aarnoudse, founders of Amsterdam-based architectural studio The Way We Build, to design a mobile cabin that encourages immersion in nature while maintaining a small footprint.

Created as a nature retreat, this tiny timber cabin is located at the Het bos roept campground  next to a forest called Robbenoordbos.

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"The cabin is located on the transition zone (ecotone) from the open field to the forest, so guests can experience the intimacy of the darker forest and the light and vastness of the skies," says Agarwal, who adds that the cabin might also be moved to different locations depending on the season.

"The cabin is meant for metropolitan people looking to rejuvenate close to nature in order to escape the digital pollution of nowadays," explain Agarwal and Aarnoudse. "There is space to meditate, write, draw, and create things by using materials found in nature, allowing guests to let go of the external world and reconnect with their souls in nature’s wild perfection."

The compact, 162-square-foot cabin is simply furnished with a fixed bed, a compact and fully equipped kitchen, a wood-burning stove, and a bathroom with a composting toilet. Shower facilities are located in a communal bathhouse on the campground.

Drawing inspiration from religious architecture as a place of refuge, the architects designed the interior of the cabin with timber arches that create a chapel-like feel. "The arches and the domes help guests reconnect with themselves and create positive energy for meditation," explain the duo.

The arched elements frame full-height windows for an immersive nature experience. Fresh breakfast is delivered to the door every morning.

The architects originally planned to prefabricate the timber arches from cross-laminated timber using a CNC cutting machine. However, after learning that CNC cutting on such a small scale would be far too expensive, they teamed up with architectural artist Joritt Vijn to prefabricate the materials out of poplar plywood instead.

The cabin structure and arches are made of locally sourced poplar plywood. The design team selected this material because of its fast-growing characteristics and wide availability in the Netherlands. "Because they grow fast, there is a lot of water in the tree," add the architects. "During drying, this water is replaced by air—that’s why this wood insulates, and therefore feels warm and pleasant (it is the same wood type used for making clogs). The wood does not splinter, and it is non-toxic."

In addition to poplar plywood surfaces, the interior features linoleum floors and wood wool insulation. The wood-burning stove is Prity's Mini model.

Vijn, who has an artist’s studio in Amsterdam, hand-cut the more manageable elements in the city and then transported the pieces to a farm near the site, where he and the architects spent a month assembling and finishing the structure. The completed cabin was transported by truck to the edge of the campsite just in time for the start of the camping season in early April.

The cabin’s elements were prefabricated over the course of several weeks. Assembly and finishing took another month.

The exterior is clad in western red cedar, selected for its low-carbon footprint and naturally luxurious appearance. The roof is a white EPDM membrane, chosen as the "best alternative to bitumen roofing," say the architects.

"It's such a beautiful area—you want to be able to share it with people," says Wiegersma of the Het bos roept! campsite. "And that is exactly what we are doing here. Creating a place where people can discover, experience, and above all enjoy. Enjoy the environment, the forest, the polder, the island, the Afsluitdijk, the nature, and the cultivated land."

Walls of sliding glass open up to a covered deck lined with Douglas fir planks.

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Guests can collect locally felled and milled firewood from the barn at the entrance of the campsite for the outdoor fire pit and wood-burning stove.

The mobile cabin can be transported by truck. Guests can enjoy outdoor yoga sessions during the summertime, or visit Den Oever, the nearest town that's within walking distance.

The cabin is available to rent on Airbnb for approximately $122 a night for two people, including complimentary breakfast.

Forest Cabin section

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Project Credits:

Architect of Record: The Way We Build  / @thewaywebuild

Builder / General Contractor: Jorrit Vijn