Nathan Fisher wins international cabin design competition

Community Forests International’s (CFI) panel of judges recently faced a larger than anticipated responsibility when over 50 entries from around the world poured into the organization’s sustainable cabin design contest.

Striving to meet the high standards set out in the competition criteria, teams from Japan, the United States, Italy, Romania, China, Spain and several other countries explored new approaches to the traditional backwoods cabin experience. Many drew inspiration from the region’s proven building traditions, including Acadian architectural vernacular and the traditional wigwam of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations.  Others emphasized the poetic side of architecture, compelling a sense of wonder and excitement about communing with Canada’s wilderness; something Community Forests International believes is vital to building pride in New Brunswick’s vast natural wealth.

According to jury member Craig Applegath: “The quality of the submissions was extremely high, and demonstrated the potential of an international competition to generate some really insightful innovation. The winning design by Nathan Fisher was not only innovative, smart and elegant, but managed to very effectively capture, in a few simple moves, all of the key requirements of the competition brief. This is yet another example of how the team at CFI are blurring the lines between rural and global and finding clever ways to innovate.”

Toronto-based Nathan Fisher, B.Arch Sci, M.Arch, was awarded the $1,000 top prize and donated his prize back to Community Forests International. Of his winning design, Fisher said: “Transporting the cabin mitigates the environmental impact on the forest by allowing users to periodically relocate to permit old sites to regenerate. As an example, cabins can be moved over winter snow, pulled by farm equipment or livestock on a large sled or trailer and relocated before spring on a new site to allow the previous location to regenerate. The ability to transport the cabin can also allow construction to occur in a controlled environment, removing the environmentally harsh construction process from the sensitive forest.”

The jury further added that “the Nomadic Cabin entry meets all of the competition requirements in spades. It is compact, easily constructed from local material, is easily moveable, and is beautiful. The designers have also been very subtle and sophisticated in the key design moves they have made – like the trailer jacks to support the cabin. I have a sense that this design will become a popular approach for building rural cabins in the future, and could become an iconic feature of the Acadian Forest landscape.” 

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