- Project Name
- Half-Tree House
- New York
- Jacobschang Architecture
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 360 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Project Status
2017 Builder's Choice & Custom Home Design Awards
Accessory Building: Grand
Camouflaged among the trees on a remote property in upstate New York, this blackened-timber cabin is a commendable exercise in minimalism. Constructed entirely by its owners—a pair of amateur “weekend builders” on a shoestring budget—the 360-square-foot wooded retreat makes room for nothing but the essentials in its diminutive footprint, foregoing even running water and electricity.
Kept decidedly sparse, furnishings include little more than a Jotul stove for warmth, a multipurpose table that functions as a cooktop, desk, and storage, and a fitted mattress for sleeping. The wood cladding used on the cabin’s exterior was repurposed from milled, felled pines sourced from the 60-acre site. To achieve the façade’s darkened hue, the team treated the boards with Scandinavian pine-tar that contrasts with the cabin’s whitewashed interior.
Three oversized, steel-framed pivot doors fitted with insulated glass open the single-room structure to the forested landscape and flood sunlight in through curated viewpoints. But the project’s most notable feature is the one alluded to in its name: half of the building’s weight is supported by the site’s Eastern pine trees. The single-room cabin cantilevers over the tree trunks of its steep, hillside site, anchored to the ground only by a pair of concrete footings at the structure’s rear. — L.D.
“This is one of those jewel projects. It’s well-detailed and sculptural. It blends beautifully into the forested landscape.” - Juror Sebastian Schmaling
2016 Residential Architect Design Awards
Jacobschang Architecture’s structure for a couple in Barryville, N.Y., literally sits in the trees: Cantilevered over a hillside, its single-room interior floats among the tree trunks to which it’s anchored for support. In fact, the Half-Tree House’s only direct connection to the ground is a set of footings at the back end of the building. The simple living space is flooded with sunlight through the insulated glass of three oversized steel-tube pivot doors. Its wood boards were milled from Eastern pine trees felled on the property, and the exterior was sealed with traditional Scandinavian pine tar. Juror Kevin Kudo-King appreciated the use of materials and “the way that the inside and outside relate.” Juror Anne Decker said, “The forms, in section and elevation, are just stunning.” The remote site lacks vehicular access, piped water, and electricity, so the building was designed so that it could be constructed mostly by hand by its amateur builder-owners. At just 360 square feet, it’s a compact, rustic getaway, built for only $20,000. — N.B.