Edirne, Turkey, is a medium-sized city in the country’s northwest, near the borders of Greece and Bulgaria. On weekends, a young family retires to this off the grid cabin for a getaway, a reconnection with nature. Since they visit the cabin year-round, warm summer days and during howling winter storms, they wanted something simple but that can adapt to the seasons.

Istanbul-based firm SO? designed this Cabin on the Border for the family as a prefabricated structure with walls that open and close using a clever pulley system. It’s off the grid after all, with no power but muscle power to operate the pulleys. On a stormy night, the large front window and facade can be closed, protecting the inhabitants from whatever maelstrom swirls outside. In fine weather, the windows can be opened to let in, well, everything, and the facade can be laid down to act as a wide deck.

Interacting with the surrounding countryside was an integral part of the project.


“Designing a contemporary off-grid building in nature is not only about collecting rainwater or utilizing solar energy or locating the building according to the sun and wind; it is rather about a more direct, unequivocal way of relating with nature,” SO? says of the Cabin on the Border on their website.

The cabin is 18 square meters and features three beds, a small kitchen, bathroom, and a fireplace. Mandatory, that fireplace. The walls and flooring are laminated timber, with a stone wool insulation, all wrapped in weather-treated birch plywood. Lightweight and durable.

A truck drove the prefab cabin to a clearing surrounded by mustard plants favored by the owners. Once built, transported, and erected, the entire cabin incurred a cost of only $11,000. Not bad for a retreat like that.



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