The duo behind a network of rural artist residency spaces in Scotland have developed a prefabricated cabin that can be delivered on the back of a truck and installed on any site.
Artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod launched the Bothy Project back in 2011 to offer creatives a chance to reconnect with nature by spending time in off-grid, architect-designed bothies – named after the basic shelters used by hillwalkers in the Scottish Highlands. Artist Bothy is an evolution of the first cabin installed on the Inshriach estate in the Cairngorms National Park.
The tiny home’s pared-back gabled form and corrugated-metal cladding reference vernacular buildings, so it will sit comfortably in any rural setting, while the considered detailing ensures it is equally well-suited to an urban context.
Artist Bothy is a natural and important extension of the Bothy Project’s cultural ambitions, according to Niven.
‘We started to receive a lot of enquiries from people interested in commissioning a bothy,’ he told The Spaces. ‘The prefab design allows us to respond to this interest in a way that celebrates the Bothy Project but provides a product that is simple and quick to install.’
Artist Bothy is constructed in the Highlands and is delivered fully assembled. Costing from £39,000 and available to buy from Bothy Stores, it is aimed at landowners looking for a studio, private retreat or tourist accommodation, but could also be a viable choice for public institutions in need of a community hub, classroom or meeting space. The compact interior measures 12 sqm, with a mezzanine bed built in and space for a kitchenette, table, bench, shelves and stove, if required.
The project takes advantage of legislation implemented in 2017 by the Scottish government that makes it easier for people to build simple huts for recreational use. The changes in planning policy that allow shelters with a maximum floor area of 30 sqm to be erected without a building warrant were brought in largely in response to the A Thousand Huts campaign spearheaded by the charity Reforesting Scotland.
Artist Bothy’s launch coincides with a global trend for off-grid dwellings and micro cabins. Enthusiasm for so-called ‘Cabin Porn’ stems from a desire to escape the pressures of life in an increasingly urbanised and digitised world.
‘To have time and space in a relaxing environment is a luxury for many people today,’ adds Niven. ‘A cabin in nature is the perfect platform to create that environment.’
Other examples of contemporary cabin architecture include a tree house designed by Norwegian architects Snøhetta in the Arctic Circle, and a series of glass shelters in Sweden’s Dalsland that can reportedly reduce stress by 70%. Retail brands including Muji and Vipp have also developed their own cabins as an extension of their brands.
According to Niven, the Artist Bothy is distinct from these purely commercial products as it is rooted in a cultural organisation, with all sales going to support the Bothy Project’s mission of promoting artist mobility and access to the Scottish landscape.