It's been a noticeably pleasant summer this year, so we've taken advantage of weekends by escaping up to the San Gabriel Mountains and the trails of the Angeles Forest every chance we get, where we've enviously oggled the rustic getaway cabins still dotting the trails of some LA's best outdoor hideaways. The wooden and stone cabins from our city's yesteryear sit alongside babbling creeks and the nearby hills, their states of disrepair admittedly part of their charm, harkening to a time when "getting away" didn't mean star-awarded resorts and all the amenities many of us connect with vacation. Sometimes getting down to the basics is what appeals to us the most, and we tend to drift more toward the cabin and camp getaway than manufactured experiences the resorts normally offer...
But countryside/rustic living doesn't necessarily mean an abandonment of modernist ideals for a natural aesthetic, as is often the case with the best architecture coming out of Japan. Sou Fujimoto Architects' Next Generation House is an example of a modernist's interpretation of the countryside cabin. Overlooking the River Kuma at Kumakura and sharing the view with a nearby temple, the weekend retreat is stunning inside and out, mirroring the dense surrounding foilage within its four walls.
The spartan interior reveals itself to be a network of levels created by a weave of jutting cedar blocks (watch your head!), providing multi-use surfaces in a very small space, with the wood's hue providing a natural aesthetic in tune with the surrounding environment outside.
The small pavilion, a 4x4 m cube, is made by assembling solid Japanese cedar blocks kept in place by their own weight and connecting metal cables running through vertical drill holes. Some of the inside cubes are laid off-centre to create shelves, small living areas and even steps to move from one level to another. Offsets in the wall cubes also create windows with views of the surrounding countryside...
[Photos by Iwan Baan]