Located within the forest of the Catskills town of Barryville is the Half-Tree House, designed by the Manhattan firm JacobsChang. This remote 60 acres of land, about two hours outside of New York, is a second-growth forest in a steep, isolated area with no vehicular access, no piped water, and no electricity. The firm designed this 360-square-foot cabin on a $20,000 budget for the clients, who also decided to construct the structure entirely by themselves with only weekend assistance. JacobsChang made building on the difficult site easier by lifting the structure above the ground and bringing in support from the surrounding trees. It was an apparent success, with a compact and modern cabin sitting gracefully within its surroundings.
By lifting up the structure the architects were able to minimize both site work and the need for large footings, retaining walls and pumped concrete. According to the firm, “Sonotube footings anchor the upslope corners at grade while half of the weight of the structure is distributed, via Garnier Limbs, to two existing trees.”
The wood boards used for the exterior and interior were milled and kiln-dried from the Eastern Pines on the property. To minimize maintenance and withstand the winters, the exterior boards were treated with traditional Scandinavian pine-tar. Inside, the floorboards were protected with a clear matte sealant.
There are three 8-foot-by-8-foot steel-tube pivot doors, which break up the black facade with glass and provide views out to the forest. The doors were fabricated offsite and then installed, weatherstripped and fitted onsite with dual-insulated glass.
This cozy cabin only fits a bed, armchair, and small area for preparing basic meals–but it still feels like a luxurious escape. Heating is provided by the wood-burning stove, while the floor-to-ceiling windows let air circulate through. (Power, if it’s needed, is drawn from a portable generator.)
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Photos via JacobsChang
Neighborhoods : Barryville