When you live in a constantly connected (but spiritually disconnected) urban environment, it’s natural to dream about escaping to some wilderness shack and never coming back. Hide and Seek: The Architecture of Cabins and Hide-Outs, a new book from Gestalten, lets you indulge that fantasy without having to go all Grizzly Man. It presents some of the world’s most stunning cabins, shelters, hideouts, and sanctuaries that answer to the longing for retreat in nature.
Similar to the way 19th-century Romantics reacted to the Industrial Revolution with a more emotional, worshipful approach to the natural world, contemporary architects are building structures that incorporate the wilderness into their designs, inviting it in rather than shutting it out. “Direct connections to water, earth, air, and even fire enhance the power and sense of discovery present within the rural refuge,” writes Sofia Borges in Hide and Seek’s introduction. Among these are a mirrored lake cottage that reflects the surrounding forest on its facade and the nook-like Cocoon shelter, made of strips of cedar, which snakes around a series of tree trunks. Here, 12 of the most jaw-dropping contemporary hideaways in the world’s many middles of nowhere.
BIVACCO LUCA VUERICH, BY GIOVANNI PESAMOSCA ARCHITETTO IN FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA, ITALY
This tiny, stoic A-frame cabin perches atop a rugged landscape in the Julian Alps, 8,303 feet above sea level. It’s situated along a summit trail, so hikers and climbers can catch up on rest in the hideout, which sleeps up to nine guests.
SLEDGE-PROJECT, BY ROB SWEERE, QAASUITSUP, GREENLAND
These futuristic mobile dwellings on sleds were built for an organization that helps rehabilitate troubled children by pairing them with local hunters, who teach them the ways of the wild. They can be towed with dogs or snowmobiles over sea or ice, and each sleeps up to six guests.
THE PUMP HOUSE, BY BRANCH STUDIO ARCHITECTS, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
This re-locatable lakeside cabin perches on stilts. Floor-to-ceiling windows let sunlight pour through.
FIRE SHELTER, BY SIMON HJERMIND JENSEN, CAPITAL REGION OF DENMARK, DENMARK
Inspired by the architecture of nomadic people, this egg-like plywood hut has a simple circular bench around a central fireplace. Open to the public, and meant to stand only for a year, the Fire Shelter is ventilated by a hole in the top and two towards the bottom.
STEVE’S THAILAND DOME HOME, BY STEVE AREEN, IN ISAN, THAILAND
This Dr. Seussian orange refuge sits amid a large organic mango farm. Completed by a small community of builders in just six weeks for under $6,000, the dome-shaped hut includes a handmade staircase that winds up to a rooftop patio shaded by a shaggy palapa.
VEGA COTTAGE, BY KOLMAN BOYE ARCHITECTS, IN TRONDELAG, NORWAY
Close to the polar circle, this simple house borrows the gunmetal-gray color scheme of the surrounding bedrock in its harsh northern landscape, and its roof reflects the silver-white of the perpetually overcast sky. Large windows offer vistas of the ocean and mountain range.
COCOON, BY AA DESIGN & MAKE, SOUTH WEST ENGLAND, U.K.
This cocoon, made of cedar strips in a whimsical monocoque structure, weaves through the trees of a forest park. Visitors can curl up inside its undulating form.
KEKKILA GARDEN SHED, BY AVANTO ARCHITECTS, UUSIMAA, FINLAND
This garden shed-greenhouse hybrid lets you feel about as close to nature as possible while still technically being inside.
LE TRONC CREUX BY BRUIT DU FRIGO, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
This cylindrical nature hut, resembling a giant log, can sleep up to nine people.
TREE SNAKE HOUSE BY REBELO DE ANDRADE, PEDRAS SALGADAS PARK, PORTUGAL
The long, skinny bodies of snakes gliding between trees inspired these designs, in a Portuguese resort park, which can sleep one to two guests.
LAKE COTTAGE BY UUFIE, ONTARIO, CANADA
This cottage in an Ontario forest has a mirrored entrance that lets it blend magically into the surrounding wilderness.
STUDIO FOR A COMPOSER BY JOHNSEN SCHMALING ARCHITECTS, WISCONSIN, UNITED STATES
A country western musician uses this retreat, made of exposed concrete and steel, glass, and wood, as a studio for writing and recording his music.