Perched 3,600-feet high atop the remote edge of the Tahoe National Forest in Nevado County, California, an eco-friendly cabin is the perfect weekend getaway for a busy city-dwelling family. Designed by Arkin Tilt Architects, a firm that focuses on energy and resource efficient homes, the Chalk Bluff Cabin is partially built using straw-bales, which is a sustainable construction alternate to lumber. You can read more about the Chalk Bluff Cabin here.
The 872-square-foot cabin is situated on the Tahoe National Forest. It’s a perfect retreat for its owners, a couple who work and live in nearby San Francisco. Although you can’t tell by looking at the exterior, the Chalk Bluff Cabin is partially constructed using straw bales, a common approach taken by Arkin Tilt Architects who are strong supporters of the ecological benefits of the material.
Inside, the main area of the home is sun-filled and contains an open concept kitchen, dining area, and living room. The polished concrete floors contrast the natural plywood ceiling and the warm plastered walls, while touches of dark wood framing the windows and doors bring the outdoors in. The kitchen is located beneath a loft bedroom, creating a cozy space within a space.
Upstairs, a wall cut-out forms an airy nook that’s the size of a queen bed. Surrounded by windows, the nook provides extra sleeping space for guests or is a quiet recess for getting some alone time during the day. The mudroom and bathroom are located at the back of the house.
Given its remote location, the cabin is completely off the utility grid. It harvests energy from the solar panels located on the roof. The energy is stored in batteries that power the well pump and other domestic needs. Meanwhile, solar hot water collectors provide hot water and heat the space by flowing the heated water through an exchanger and then into tubing buried in a two-foot bed of sand beneath the floors.
The main room of the home was built using straw bale construction. Straw bales are an eco-friendly alternative to lumber because it does not require logging old-growth forests. Additionally, because straw bales are made of 100 percent waste from another industry—the growing of grain for food—this type of construction has an incredibly light carbon footprint.
Although the home is located in the wilderness, it’s situated in a clearing that will protect it from any potential forest fires. All of the materials are fire-resistant, ensuring the cabin will be a homey getaway for years to come.