Kit Tectonics

Deconstructible Cabin
New York, New York, 2019

Having recently purchased a large piece of property in Upstate New York, my clients had ambitions of constructing a large vacation home for a rapidly growing extended family. However, lacking the immediate budget for such ambitions, their intention was to first build something small, simple, and temporary, and to expand in the future.

After working through several unfruitful iterations, I suggested we build something that could be disassembled, with the components being reused in the construction of the permanent structure. They jumped at the idea, and we set to designing a deconstructable lofted cabin with room for 8, and plenty of space for cooking and entertaining, at least by New York standards.

The cabin’s form is derived from 3 basic principles: minimize cutting, maintain a 2’x2’ module, and keep everything orthogonal. The exterior shell is based on a 4’x8’ module to maximize the efficient use of the plywood sheathing, standing seam roofing, and dimensional lumber structure. It is divided into 6 segments, which increase in both vertical and horizontal dimension from south to north. Each is set at a 25 degree angle to allow for roof drainage, prevent snow building, and to create sectional height where necessary. The shell is anchored to a dimensional lumber floor structure, which itself sits on a series of telephone pole piers set in gravel beds, eliminating the need for concrete.

Equally important is the treatment and materials and details. All connections are made with exposed mechanical fasteners, allowing for simple, intuitive, networked (non-sequential) disassembly. Natural, through-color finishes (predominantly wood) are used instead of adhesives, laminates, and paints, further aiding in the ease of dismantling and reuse. The resultant construction, in form and materiality, is both novel and inevitable, an exploration of how an architecture designed for disassembly might truly manifest.