the woodland cabin, a 32 square-meter residence, was designed and built by london-based firm de rosee sa as a seasonal retreat outside the tiny picturesque village of nouvelles, belgium.
the lightweight, simple, and economical dwelling was initially conceived to replace an existing structure and accommodate a guest house and studio. through the design process, the team aimed to build a new structure expressing the characteristics of a heritage building, in dialogue with the local vernacular of the surrounding agricultural buildings. de rosee sa ultimately proposed a rustic, steeply pitched wooden A-frame with an exterior clad entirely in black.
the woodland cabin was commissioned by the father of the founder of london-based de rosee sa. nestled between a mirrored lake and the picturesque outskirts of a wood, the project was constructed with the use of recycled, locally sourced materials. both the structure and external cladding are built of spruce timber, milled from naturally fallen trees claimed from the surrounding forests. to create the black-finished facade, wood stain was mixed with upcycled tractor engine oil sourced from nearby local farms. the timber doors and windows, fixtures, fittings and the stove were all salvaged. the team made use of these elements to ensure the self-build project was completed with a limited budget.
inside, trussed scissor rafters are left exposed while the walls and floor are lined with oriented strand board (OSB) — a robust, engineered panel made up of wooden strands. the boards, both expressive and structural, tie together the timber studwork. apart from a wood-burning stove that generates the building’s heating, there is no fixed furniture in the main space. this allows for the accommodation of such different uses as working, sleeping, and socializing. the main room opens out toward a raised wooden deck overlooking the woodland lake.
studio founder max de rosee comments on the woodland cabin: ‘we have been working on the design of this cabin for many years. we set out to make a simple cabin from natural materials. the fact that we were using salvaged materials and that we wanted to build it ourselves meant that we kept the design humble. there is something strangely familiar about it which seems to resonate with people; a cabin from a children’s story perhaps.‘