From Trains to Towers
I’m excited to report that two cabin plans by Montana architect Jeff Shelden of Prairie Wind Architecture (one of which I mentioned in a previous post) are now part of our Signature Studio. Both designs draw inspiration from what you might call “the short and the tall” of the architectural past. Late 19th century American railroad depots, like these
from Cornell, Wisconsin and Missoula, Montana provide a perfect point of departure (and an irresistible metaphor) for vacation house design because of
their crisp outlines and straightforward structure, not to mention their promise of escape (vintage postcard from collection of Duane Hall, courtesy Greg Meier, Bruce, Wisconsin; color photo by bdbrewer courtesy Virtual Tourist). Jeff
retained the depot details in Plan 547-2, as you see in his rendering, complete with large brackets supporting the roof’s shady overhang. However, inside,
the 1,040 square foot cottage is all about easy modern living. The great room at the center is flanked by the master suite on one end and a guest bedroom on the other. It could be expanded into a larger year-round home by connecting the entry to new rooms or a garage.
Jeff’s other cabin is inspired by US Forest Service fire lookouts
vividly romantic. The pyramid-roofed design is all about escaping into the wild. As Jeff tells it, the fire towers “were a place where life and relationships were condensed to their essential elements, where nature overwhelmed and embraced
has no bathroom — the original design called for a composting toilet some distance away from the cabin. So you’ll need to modify the plan to suit your own requirements. The second floor is one room for living and sleeping and
opens to the wrap-around cantilevered deck, as shown above. The ribbon of
windows and the scattered books let the gaze as well as the imagination wander. Welcome, Jeff, and thanks for prompting dreams of summer getaways!
Renting a Lookout
If you want to try bunking in a fire tower before actually building one, you are in luck: various historic lookouts are available for overnight stays now that new technologies perform similar functions. Just remember, it’s all about the view because the interiors are spartan. Visit Recreation Rentals of the Pacific Northwest (part of the US Forest Service) for more information. Here’s a sampling in Oregon: