Building eco-friendly homes is sometimes about more than just using sustainable building materials and practices-it can also be about fitting new homes into the available space without disturbing or harming the existing landscape. The Forest Retreat house built by the Check firm Uhlik Architekti in the forests of Bohemia, near Prague is an excellent example of just such a construction method.
The Forest Retreat house has a tiny footprint indeed, as it is partially balanced on a large boulder, which also gives it a distinct shape and causes it to slope upwards. It is also painted black, so as to blend in better with its forest surroundings. The house also features two windows, which let in plenty of natural daylight when not shuttered. The larger of the two shutters can be opened by hand to create a small porch. The Forest Retreat measures a measly 16 square meters (172 square feet), and can function completely off-the-grid. There is no lights, electricity, running water, or toilet, meaning that the occupants must truly live as one with nature.
The Forest Retreat rests on a joisted framework support system that was made using sports charred board cladding and locally harvested timber worked by local carpenters. The interior was kept simple, finished with OSB boards to keep the costs low. The interior also contains the winch mechanism and water drainage, which were made by a local blacksmith. There is only a single room inside, which slopes upward due to the house being balanced atop a boulder.
Inside, there are four large steps, which serve as both seating areas and storage. One of the steps opens to form a double bed by manipulating the lid using a hinge mechanism. The retreat is heated with a small, simple wood stove. The multipurpose steps lead up to a large window at the top of the house so that the occupant is literally standing atop the boulder when looking through it. The steps are a very nice touch, since the occupant can use them to sit, sleep, or lounge as needed, while they also offset the sloping shape of the house.
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