Go Off-Grid in Russia With This Bright Red Prefab Cabin

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By Lucy Wang
Airlifted into place via a helicopter, this energy-efficient alpine shelter adds a vibrant pop of color to a snow-covered landscape.

In the frigid, remote Russian town of Kandalaksha, Moscow–based BIO Architects have recently achieved an impressive architectural feat with the construction of their latest self-sufficient prefabricated shelter.

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Located on Mount Volosyanaya north of the Arctic Circle, DublDom in Kandalaksha enjoys views of the White Sea and mountains beyond.

Located on Mount Volosyanaya north of the Arctic Circle, DublDom in Kandalaksha enjoys views of the White Sea and mountains beyond.

Built to sleep eight, the striking 345-square-foot prefab is the latest example of DublDom, the firm’s series of modular homes that are affordable, customizable, and engineered with precision.

Energy-efficient VELUX windows have been installed in the south-facing glazed wall.

Energy-efficient VELUX windows have been installed in the south-facing glazed wall.

BIO Architects began the process with the standard DublDom modules and selected building materials that followed stringent criteria for durability, energy efficiency, and weight. 

Since the prefab could only be installed via a helicopter, the architects had to prioritize minimizing the weight of the structure.

Since the prefab could only be installed via a helicopter, the architects had to prioritize minimizing the weight of the structure.

The Dubldom was installed in two parts.

The Dubldom was installed in two parts.

"Due to combining high-tech materials we managed to halve the weight of the modules," explains Ivan Ovchinnikov, architect and founder of BIO Architects. "The materials and the coating are calculated to be used at low temperatures and high wind loads." 

Red ALPOLIC aluminum composite panels have been used for the exterior cladding.

Red ALPOLIC aluminum composite panels have been used for the exterior cladding.

The design process lasted approximately one year, after which the construction spanned between three and four months. However, installation took a mere 45 minutes from start to finish. 

"A minimalistic colour spectrum was used in order not to distract from the main accent—the view from the window," adds the architects.

"A minimalistic colour spectrum was used in order not to distract from the main accent—the view from the window," adds the architects.

Completed in April, DublDom in Kandalaksha was created and installed as a gift for the town after resident Aleksandr Trunkovskii won DublDom Place, a 2016 competition that asked fans to submit suggestions for the next DublDom location. 

The prefab cabin is a 40-minute hike from Kandalaksha.

The prefab cabin is a 40-minute hike from Kandalaksha.

Trunkovskii, a public figure in the local administration, had proposed a site on Mount Volosyanaya where the DublDom could be enjoyed by nature lovers and tourists alike. 

The prefab cabin is elevated atop six metal pillars to minimize site impact.

The prefab cabin is elevated atop six metal pillars to minimize site impact.

The north-end of the cabin features an outdoor deck.

The north-end of the cabin features an outdoor deck.

The cabin is perched less than 100 feet away from a clear lake. The region is renowned for its miles of hiking trails, skiing, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

The cabin is perched less than 100 feet away from a clear lake. The region is renowned for its miles of hiking trails, skiing, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

Now, DublDom in Kandalaksha is open to the public to rent. The price ranges between $15 and $65 depending on the number of people booked. 

The cabin operates off-grid, yet visitors can still enjoy access to cell reception and free Wi-Fi.

The cabin operates off-grid, yet visitors can still enjoy access to cell reception and free Wi-Fi.

Thanks to bunk beds, the cabin can sleep up to eight guests.

Thanks to bunk beds, the cabin can sleep up to eight guests.

A wood-burning stove helps create a cozy and toasty atmosphere.

A wood-burning stove helps create a cozy and toasty atmosphere.

Solar panels provide enough energy to power lighting and electrical outlets.

Solar panels provide enough energy to power lighting and electrical outlets.

The living area and sleeping spaces are placed on the south side, while the compact kitchen and bathroom (hidden behind the kitchen) are located to the north.

The living area and sleeping spaces are placed on the south side, while the compact kitchen and bathroom (hidden behind the kitchen) are located to the north.

The simple kitchen consists of a sink, countertop, dishes, and a two-burner stove.

The simple kitchen consists of a sink, countertop, dishes, and a two-burner stove.

Managed by the local government as an affordable rental property, the DublDom in Kandalaksha replaces an old shelter that had been badly burned.

Managed by the local government as an affordable rental property, the DublDom in Kandalaksha replaces an old shelter that had been badly burned.

Set north of the Arctic Circle, Dubldom in Kandalaksha is perfectly positioned for views of the Northern Lights.

Set north of the Arctic Circle, Dubldom in Kandalaksha is perfectly positioned for views of the Northern Lights.

A look at the Dubldom in Kandalaksha floor plan.

A look at the Dubldom in Kandalaksha floor plan.

Dubldom in Kandalaksha elevation drawings.

Dubldom in Kandalaksha elevation drawings.

Here's an isometric drawing of the cabin.

Here's an isometric drawing of the cabin.

A look at the site plan.

A look at the site plan.