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Agora, Wochenendhaus, Isòvol

Five Tonnes in 30 Days: Weekend Cabin in the Pyrenees

Inspired by the Greek origin of the word agora, Joan Casals and Jose Luis Cisneros see their eponymous architecture studio as a central place for the exchange of ideas - particularly concerning the effects of architecture projects on their social and physical contexts. Therefore, the plans for this weekend cabin in the Pyrenees gave rise to extensive consideration of the possibility to build sustainably on a campground.

A project like this generally involves working with components intended for temporary use, acquired piece by piece from a DIY store. In this case, the architects devised a holistic plan. Their desire to show respect for the environment is fulfilled in three ways. First, the building features low energy consumption - a classic rule of sustainable building. Second, the architects wanted to raise awareness of the careful handling of resources. Third, they determined that starkly delimited, private spaces demand equilibrium in the form of open, communal areas.

The cabin, which measures just 7.5 x 4.5 x 3 metres, exemplifies these principles. The rectangular structure is entered via the shorter side. The long cooking and living area faces south and features three sliding glass doors. These open onto a terrace that can also be used as a verandah for outdoor activities. The rear of the house is home to two bedrooms that are no bigger than their beds: a reminder of life in a camper.

The floor, walls and ceilings are clad with pressboard panels; the architects intended these to give the space a warm skin. The 1.5 x 1.5 façade modules were prefabricated. Apart from the concrete foundation blocks, the house is built exclusively of light, dry built-in materials. This meant fewer workers during the building phase and minimized transport costs. From outside, the façade modules are covered with thermacork. Cork trees are native to the Iberian Peninsula and make an ideal material for insulation. In the final building phase, the building, which weighs a mere 5 tonnes, was assembled in 30 days.

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