The Woodcutter’s Refuge was designed for private clients on an agricultural estate in South Devon, within a mile of the SW coastal path.
The brief was simple; The need for ‘shelter’ within a newly planted area of woodland for the local woodcutter to store tools and take refuge in times of poor weather. The site is the corner of a newly planted, mixed native woodland. It is an isolated and exposed location, so the building needed to be resilient to the Devon weather whilst cosy enough to spend time waiting for the elements to change. Alongside this was an aspiration for it’s design to be informed by, and sensitive to its context.
Dylan Thomas’ writing shed in Laugharne provided a strong precedent for the sense of space that the clients were interested in creating – one full of character, yet informal in its construction and materiality.
This example immediately informed the form of the building. It’s double pitched roof provided the quintessential form of a hillside cabin. Sited in a steep landscape, its orientation was dictated by a mixture of context and pragmatism – picking up views of the distant river Dart, yet remaining aware of the difficulties of hillside construction. The building picks a path between being embedded in the landscape, and taking a step off the hillside, providing a collection of different spaces and views.
The building’s simple arrangement was designed around it’s sporadic usage and isolated location. Large shutters allow the building to be closed down or opened up when required, offering a sense of security for the storage of tools, but providing an inspiring place for the users to base themselves when working in the woods. A partially indoor space is provided for storage and wet weather gear – an ancillary area to the warmer interior of the cabin.
The material palette was driven by its context. A UK sourced, seasoned oak structure and paneled infill is fully expressed internally - a structural honesty driven by the client’s brief. Off-site prefabrication was required due to the difficulties of building in the steep landscape.
Externally, vertical green oak, rainscreen cladding was chosen. Movement in the timber was encouraged, as the cladding was seen as part of the woodland, blending the building into the hillside over time.
Front with vertical green oak, rainscreen cladding
Cabin with Corten roof and vertical green oak, rainscreen cladding
Vertical green oak, rainscreen cladding, Corten roof, and sliding shutters
Corten corrugated steel sheets for the roof and vertical green oak, rainscreen cladding
Interior of the luxury off grid cabin with UK sourced, seasoned oak structure and paneled infill
Drop down double glazed Crittall window
Interior with UK sourced, seasoned oak structure and paneled infill