Community Forests International has named a winner in its second annual backwoods cabin of the future contest.

The Sackville-based organization asked people to design a cabin that will be built on its farm this summer.

The contest drew entries from 62 designers and architects from 24 countries, but it was a German design firm that won the $1,000 prize, donated by NB Power.

Zach Melanson, the communication director for the organization, said the winning design used a lot of natural materials.
“It has straw insulation, it’s made of wood, it’s a timber frame … and it has a unique siding,” he said.

The Japanese torrified siding is charred to preserve the wood from rot and protect it from insects.

“And it gives it this interesting look too. It’s like dark and quite beautiful, kind of iridescent, almost,” said Melanson.

He said the winning design also has a moss roof.

The winning design needed to provide space for two people to live with as little impact on the environment as possible.

Winning design to be brought to life

Now the plan is to bring the design to life. The group plans to build the cabin from the design at its farm near Sussex this summer.

“A lot of people draw up these designs and they never really see them to fruition,” Melanson said.

“We’re going to build it and kind of proof the concept.”

The winning design doesn’t require level land to build on, which was a consideration as the site where the cabin will be built is sloped.

Once it’s built it won’t sit empty, said Melanson.

“The cabin is going to be a spot where visitors and people taking our workshops, and also apprentices, can come and stay short or long term,” he said.

Melanson says running the contest is just enough work to be a challenge, yet a small enough endeavour to be achievable, and he hopes it will continue for years to come.

“Eventually, there will be all these little cabins there that will kind of allow people to be in the space and then we’ll have a centralized place for sort of cooking and washing and things.”

Other notable cabin designs in this year’s contest include one covered entirely in thatch.

“It’s wooly, almost like this forest creature,” said Melanson.

“The judges certainly liked it quite a lot, almost enough to create a whole new category.”

That design was chosen as the winner of the jury award for soul.

Melanson said that design didn’t win largely because thatch is not easy to find around this area, but he said the organization is looking to get some thatch to attempt a project.

The peoples choice award went to three second-year architecture students from India who used straw bails as insulation.