- John B. Carnett
How do you make a 160-square-foot retreat feel like a splurge rather than a sacrifice? Don't skimp on the comforts. In Cubist Engineering's The Sturgis, a pre-fab guest suite built entirely out of 3-inch thick cross-laminated-timber panels, that means none of the typical "tiny space" corner cutting.
The sofa, which faces the 8-foot square picture window, is a two-piece modular Retro Tillary from West Elm. The queen-size bed with a Tuft & Needle mattress nestles against the ceiling during the day—freeing up valuable floor and wall space—and glides down gently with a push of a button at night. Behind a half-inch thick frosted glass wall is the spa bath, with a dual-flush Kohler toilet, Sant'Agostino Blendart ceramic tiles, and a shower that converts from indoor to outdoor by swinging open a garapa door onto an outer deck. The Fisher-Paykel induction cooktop, Summit under-counter refrigerator and extra deep Kraus sink fill out the kitchen.
"So many small spaces feel cramped and stiff," says Cubist co-founder Mike Haney. "We just insisted that no matter where you stand or sit in The Sturgis, it felt warm and inviting—like a place you didn't want to leave."
The namesake comes from the building's "obsession space:" four feet at one end designed to house whatever its owner absolutely must have for the ideal weekend away. The room could be a wine cellar, a bike room or a motorcycle garage with its own remote-control gullwing door and reinforced steel floor with hidden in-floor storage.
"Even the nicest room could be anybody's room," Haney says. "But a room where I get to sit on my couch and stare at my LED-uplit 1969 Moto Guzzi through a gallery window—that's MY room."
Like all Cubist Engineering small spaces, The Sturgis sits on a custom engineered hot-dipped galvanized steel sub-frame that serves as both its own trailer for easy movement, or with its removable axles and tongue taken off, a permanent foundation that requires no additional site prep. This means The Sturgis can be installed without a crane or big crew, and can then blend seamlessly into its surroundings.
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Behind a half-inch of sliding frosted glass sits The Sturgis's spa-like bathroom, with a Kohler toilet, Blendart ceramic tile and an indoor/outdoor rainshower.
A gullwing door opens to The Sturgis's "obsession space"—a room that can be configured to house whatever the owner can't live without, whether that's a wine collection, mountain bike or motorcycle.
The queen-size bed nests in the ceiling, dropped at night with a switch in the kitchen, till it sits just above the West Elm sofa and modular walnut coffee tables.
The Sturgis sits on a custom galvanized steel foundation with removable wheels and hitch, so it can be easily transported to site and then dropped directly on the ground, removing the need for a crane or big crew. The modular aluminum and garapa deck can be expanded or reconfigured with just two people.
The Sturgis's walls, floor and ceiling are all cross-laminated timber panels—3.25-inch thick sheets of douglas fir, manufactured in Montana and assembled at the Cubist Engineering shop. The box's air-tight construction and passive solar gain through the large windows means most climates need no additional insulation.
Among the configurations available for the "obsession space" in The Sturgis is a motorcycle garage with a gallery window wall into the space. LED uplights treat the bike as a museum piece.
The exterior of The Sturgis's cross-laminated-timber panel walls sports a rain screen and shou sugi ban cypress siding. The flat roof is engineered to a 150lb/sq ft live load and is covered in multiple layers of fiberglass for the ultimate weather protection.