Like to just sit and contemplate nature? Then the Wild Thing cabin perched above a “rewilding” Latvian meadow is the perfect spot for you! A group of 12 students from the Riga Technical University International Summer School program ‘Arcadia’ have designed the Wild Thing as a contemplative space in which to literally sit and watch the flowers grow. Constructed from recycled materials, the cabin took two weeks to design and build. Course leaders convinced the local council to allow the Wild Thing’s home meadow to rewild, so over the next few years the lanky, animal-like structure will simply slink back into the earth as nature overtakes it.
The Wild Thing’s home is the Pirtsupite Valley in the Latvian town of Cēsis. The valley is a wild area within the town limits, connecting the town’s historic castle with the surrounding Gauja National Park. According to the staff from Building Works Unit, who run the International Summer School, the valley “was seen as a large and undefined green space that divides the town and costs the council every year to maintain.” They proposed allowing the valley to rewild, reducing the council’s maintenance costs, while increasing the biodiversity of the area. “The issue,” they note, “was not that the valley was wild, but that it was not wild enough.”
The 12 summer school students then set about designing and building the cabin as an observatory for watching the rewilding process. The foundation is constructed of old railway sleepers, and the shingles are recycled rubber railway buffers that separated the sleepers from the metal tracks. All elements were prefabricated offsite and then moved into position for final assembly in the valley to minimize impact. The Wild Thing’s small cabin space is perched nearly 15 feet (4.5 metres) off the ground, and has two benches seating up to six people. Two cabin walls open right up, balanced on counterweights, and the other two sides open a crack. Combined with the open roof, the cabin can either be secluded or an open-air platform for observing the natural surroundings.
The Riga Technical University International Summer School is an annual hands-on course in urbanism, architecture and design. The Summer School accepts 36 students worldwide each year, and offers three studios for students to choose from. Building Works Unit says, “Underlying the unit’s development is a belief that building is a social act. We make mega-public micro-buildings that are functional objects and a provocative investigation in the culture of the place.” The Summer School courses take students through a compressed design process, from design and research through to assembly on site. For further details and to enquire about future courses,contact the Summer School here and find them on Facebook here.