En Plein Air

En Plein Air
A system of pre-fabricated CLT Cabanons
“If you stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The concept of the primitive hut is a critical point in architectural research on archetypes. This is because the hut incorporates the essential and eternal in its structure. It was the first building construction to fulfill the need for habitation. Light and reason were placed against darkness, orientation and spatial organization against the vast and unexplored world, and the safe and intimate “inside” against the precarious and unsafe “outside” unknown. It is a collective memory kept alive within groups through legends and rituals. From its inception, it has been a constant and powerful idea.

With reference to the primitive hut, concepts are introduced that are inherent in its structure and decisive for the evolution of architecture. Concepts such as verticality, center, boundary, relationship to place, and the interplay between light and shadow. These concepts can be present in any architectural work and shape its character. The return to the primitive hut and, therefore, the “return to origins” is a consistent aspect of human development, and architecture aligns with all other human activities. “The return to origins implies a rethinking” of our customary actions, an attempt to renew the meaning of everyday activities or simply to reconnect with the natural or even the divine. In the present contemplation of why and what we build for, the primitive hut retains its validity as a reminder of the original and essential purpose of architecture: It remains the underlying statement, the irreducible intentional core that has transformed through the tensions between various historical forces.

Building in territories far from our familiar environments is a challenge. It is an exercise of will. It offers the possibility of integrating a habitable space into the realm of nature. The remote is not a limitation but a potential, a value, a generator of domains and conditions. Ultimately, the remote confronts us with solitude and awareness of our scale in the face of the vast and immense. It positions us within our role in reality. This primitive hut aims to be an alternative to traditional construction, incorporating all the advantages that offsite manufacturing can offer: greater precision, faster construction, reduced waste generation, and, above all, greater environmental responsibility.

This primitive hut aspires to be an archetypal work of art in its minimal form, striving for absolute ergonomic and functionalist principles, designed based on human measurements. It is a modular hut that absorbs all the essential elements from the past and memory, and it intends to be a promise for a better future.

Location: Falkland, Scotland

Architects: Alkiviadis Pyliotis, Evangelos Fokialis  

Studio Instructor: George L. Legendre  

Project Year: 2019  

Project Type: Academic (Harvard GSD)