German industrial designers Patrick Frey and Björn Götte sketched out the Sommerhaus Piu (“more summer house”) as an adaptable, affordable, and potentially more sustainable getaway, and then built the first one as a showpiece in Pian, Germany. The cabin was prefabricated, hauled to the site, and then reassembled in a pretty, long-grass meadow some 40-odd miles north of Berlin.

It has a rather ingenious design: At one end of the elongated structure is a living room/dining space, while floating in the middle is peninsula connected to the back of the house, with a kitchen on one side and a bathroom on the other. Two small bedrooms at the back are divided by the neck of the peninsula (see floor plan below), and despite just 650 feet of interior space, it sleeps four comfortably.

A wood-slat deck surrounds the house on three sides, adding another 375 feet of floor and extending livability into the intertidal zone between nature and shelter. The roof, with its low pitch, clearly suggests low-snow environments, but it’s also easily adapted to a green roof or to be covered with solar panels. As built, the cost is about $157,000.

Architect: Patrick Frey

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Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.