In September 2021, Granary Square in London’s King Cross was looking unusually outdoorsy. The plaza, flanked by warehouses and high-rise apartment buildings, played host to the first-ever Planted Cities, a sustainable design showcase that invited visitors to interact with more than 50 eco-conscious companies.
In one installation called Sleeping in Nature, UK design firm Out of the Valley brought in tiny off-grid cabins that provided event goers with a miniature escape from the grid.
"We brought the essence of cabin culture and pared-back, wild luxury to the city," says Rupert McKelvie, director of Out of the Valley. "We wanted to bring people back to the essence of what it means to sleep close to the elements in simple yet beautifully designed spaces."
The installation comprised two cabins—the Nomad Cabin and the Nomad Den—set amid a wildflower garden designed by Farlam & Chandler. Visitors sat in the garden while engaging with a talks program centered around biophilic design, nature regeneration, and living with a lighter carbon footprint. "It acted as a place of tranquillity within the heart of the Planted Cities design show," explains McKelvie.
Now, the cabins are set to return to the next Planted event, which will take place April 30 to May 2 at Stourhead, a country estate in Wiltshire operated by the National Trust.
Sustainably built, the off-grid Nomad Cabin is a perfect complement to the event. It’s made of Douglas fir and larch sourced near Out of the Valley’s workshop, and insulated with hemp, a fast-growing plant with a minimal carbon footprint. The timbers are finished with natural oils and paints, and a small solar array is fixed to the roof.
Its counterpart, the Nomad Den, is constructed from oak and canvas. Both cabins feature beds from Naturalmat, and chairs and tables by British design brand Another Country. As tiny as the spaces are, the furnishings maintain a high level of comfort.
As with all the stands and installations at Planted, the materials that made up the infrastructure of the Sleeping in Nature installation were reused, repurposed or recycled; many of them will make an appearance at the event again this year, or elsewhere as part of another Planted talks program. As a result of this sustainable approach, waste was significantly reduced when compared with similar design events.
McKelvie looks back on the showcase fondly, but from a different perspective. "My favorite part was sitting in the cabin at night watching the square come to life with thousands of people," he says. Wherever this year’s event lands, it’s bound to be a buzzy, outdoorsy scene.
The next Planted event is scheduled for May 2022, and will be held in a soon-to-be-announced destination in the heart of the English countryside.
More from Out of the Valley:
Hemp Insulation: Thermafleece
Garden Design: Farlam & Chandler
Flexible Planters: BACSAC
Photographer: Rupert Mckelvie
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