The Arado weeHouse, a modern prefab cabin | Alchemy Architects
A concert violinist wanted a beautiful and well-built retreat for herself and her young child. The cabin would be off-grid, sitting at the edge of a cornfield overlooking a treed ravine. However her budget was limited, necessitating a small and simple structure. Her architect, Geoffrey Warner of Alchemy Architects, recommended building the cabin as a modular dwelling to provide more control over the cost.
The cabin is a simple rectangular box with a single room of just 336 ft2 (31.2 m2). There is a compact kitchen against one end wall, sleeping berths and storage built-in at the other end, and a woodstove in the middle for heat. The bathroom facilities are in an outhouse a short walk away. The two long walls are all-glass, enclosed with 8′ tall sliding patio doors. The remaining surfaces were lined with Douglas fir for a cozy cabin feel that counterbalances the exposed feeling from the glass walls.
There is a large open deck on one side and a narrow covered deck running along the other side. The covered deck was built as a separate module and attached to the main cabin module at the building site. The exterior has a coat of oxidizing paint for a rustic look that brings to mind rusting metal farm buildings.
Road transport regulations limited the cabin width to 14′, and the architects set the length to allow for use of standard-sized patio doors and windows. A structural steel frame made the structure rigid enough for transport even with the glass walls. Conventional wood framing made for a cost-effective exterior shell. With the success of the Arado project, Alchemy Architects refined these design ideas and others to produce the weeHouse line of custom modular dwellings. Several dozen houses and cabins have been built using the weeHouse prefab system, including the Marfa weeHouse that we looked at last fall.
The Arado weeHouse was completed in 2003 for $57,000, which includes all the interior furnishings, the decks and the outhouse.
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Photographs courtesy of Alchemy Architects. Winter photos by Doug Fogelson.
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