The contemporary cabin, despite its bucolic surroundings, often has all the comforts of home. That’s both a good and bad thing: while cottages offer the same lakeside benefits as ever, many are outfitted with high-speed internet, giant televisions and inescapable technologies. There are benefits to being connected, of course, but it can also be difficult to unplug – even with your feet dangling in a lake.
That’s something Netherlands-based architecture students Michiel De Backer and Martin Mikovčák wanted to remedy with Ark Shelter, their company dedicated to making prefab cabins they describe as “cocoons without a television.” Initially conceived three years ago, the original Ark Shelters have been refined by De Back and Mikovčák through different iterations and clever modifications. In fact, they’ve now developed a design that offers immersive views of nature anywhere inside the structure. They have named it the Into the Wild Cabin – for good reason.
“We wanted to create a visual focus of the nature all around,” says the firm. “Each opening brings in another atmosphere of the nature.”
Into the Wild, which has been erected in the hamlet-filled forests of Kysuce, North Slovakia, prioritizes five glazed openings. From the exterior, the cabin’s facade is clad with black oil-coloured spruce cladding, while the interior walls are made from bleached IW Trend spruce panels, which slide to cover (or reveal) windows. The cabin allows users to edit their views, depending on the surroundings or time of day.
“The shelter, with its low-tech facade, attempts to blend with nature. Refining its complex and sophisticated system means it automatically works with space and light,” say its designers. Like the duo’s other shelter iterations, Into the Wild features a number of sustainability features, including an Ariston boiler, high-efficiency window glazing by Saint-Gobain and optional solar panels by EnergyVision.
Photovoltaic panels weren’t installed in the the Kysuce project, but the firm says it is possible to do so, along with and rainwater collection, resulting in an even more sustainable retreat.
In a mere 40-square-metre footprint, this Ark Shelter has five distinct zones, each separated by a sliding door: a living area, a kitchen-dining room, a bathroom and two surprising bedrooms (more on that in a moment). At the western end of Into the Wild, the living room, kitchen and dining room are illuminated by LED strips and floor-to-ceiling windows, bringing nature within reaching distance.
Furniture was custom-designed by the Ark Shelter team, while Prostoria provided the compact dining table.
The kitchen, with a two-burner stovetop and sink, and the bathroom and storage areas are all housed in a black spruce volume skirted by hallways. The compact bathroom, featuring a custom walnut washbasin and a mirrored, stainless steel shower tray, is illuminated by a milk glass window. The first bedroom is located atop the volume, accessible via a retractable ladder.
Another panoramic window sits directly atop the loft bed, allowing in generous amounts of natural light. At night, it allows visitors to sleep beneath the stars.
The eastern end of Into the Wild houses the most surprising – and stunning – feature: a flexible room used for sleeping, relaxation or a soak. Here, a levitating plane takes centre stage. When flat, the floor is occupied by a generous double bed. When raised, a hidden jacuzzi is revealed.
This bedroom-jacuzzi offers yet another postcard window, reminding inhabitants that real beauty, here, is beyond the cabin’s walls. “We want to create a place that gives you comfort in the heart of the nature and gives you the perfect setting for a detox of your mind,” say the firm’s partners.