Tiny Vacation Shelters in the French Countryside

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By Patrick Sisson / Published by Dwell
La Nuage, a system of waystations in Bourdeaux, France, lets hikers live in the cloud.

A banana-shaped building called "Le hamac" (hammock) or an owl-shaped structure called "les guetteurs" (watchman): Both sound like settings from a French children’s book. In Bordeaux, they’re just part of the scenery. Architect Frederic Latherrade and his firm Zebra3 are building a fantastical system of waystations around the countryside to encourage hiking and exploration, choosing locations in the middle of urban and rural landscapes that "stimulate the imagination and childhood memories."

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Architect Frederic Latherrade and his firm Zebra3 are building a fantastical system of waystations around the Bordeaux countryside to encourage hiking and exploration, such as "Le nuage."

Set to be completed in 2016 with 14 total stations, the system plays off the concept of Bruit du Frigo, according to Latherrade, small dwelling within the city limits to encourage short escapes. Each of these stations can be reserved for a short break, but beyond providing shelter, they lack any additional amenities. For a short escape, however, a quick stay in "La belle étoile" (a yellow, star-shaped shelter made of stainless steel and wood conceived by Sréphane Thidet) or "Le nuage" (a cloud-shaped structure built from plywood, plexiglas, glass fiber and reinforced plastic) seem like a peaceful way to leave the everyday behind.

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Set to be completed in 2016 with 14 total stations, the system plays off the concept of Bruit du Frigo, according to Latherrade, small dwelling within the city limits to encourage short escapes. Each of these stations can be reserved for a short break, but beyond providing shelter, they lack any additional amenities

All structures built by Zebra3, and all photos by Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux unless otherwise noted.

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“Le nuage,” a cloud-shaped structure built from plywood, plexiglas, glass fiber and reinforced plastic, offers a peaceful way to leave the everyday behind.

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This towering, owl-shaped wooden structure is called "les guetteurs" (watchman).

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A different kind of log cabin, "Le tronc creux" is an abstract wood cylinder concieved by Bruit du frigo Thidet and built by Zebra3.

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Sréphane Thidet conceived of "La belle étoile," a yellow, star-shaped shelter made of stainless steel and wood.

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"La vouivre" is a wood hut enclosed by a magical, anaconda-sized green snake concieved and built by Zebra3.

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The Bluth family didn't see this coming: "Le Hamac" concieved by Bruit du Frigo is a kind of huge, half-covered outdoor "banana."