One of my new guilty pleasures, usually whilst half making lunch, is watching YouTubers reveal their journey towards a simpler, greener and more streamlined lifestyle (currently binging on Use Less and The Girl Gone Green). From Hygge to Minimalism, lifestyle trends can trigger a lot of eye-rolling, but there are two things I continue to aspire to: simplifying my surroundings and getting closer to nature.
The trend for a simpler way of life, is epitomised by an influx of tiny houses, where with good design, living spaces really can be reduced to an incredibly small footprint. If you’re lucky, they can also offer one heck of a view. A pair of cabins for rent on the Portuguese coast, Cabanas no Rio, offers guests a taste of this pared back luxury.
Easily seduced by cabin porn, I was instantly drawn to the contemporary feel of these curious little structures. They are located on the river margins of the beautiful Sado Estuary Nature Reserve of Comporta, just one hour south of Lisbon. The area is a haven for birdwatchers, surrounded by sandy beaches and rice fields; the perfect spot for admiring flamingos, storks and even dolphins, whilst taking in the fresh air. Hashtag bliss indeed.
The two 14-square-foot cabins are designed by architect Manuel Aires Mateus. Despite their somewhat futuristic shape, the inspiration for their design comes from something far more traditional: a typical fisherman’s hut. The idea was to rebuild the medieval wharf that the area is famous for, with the same materials they were using, all those years ago.
Intentional or not, the cabins are positioned as such so that they almost resemble two companions – in conversation whilst looking out to sea. Given the romantic location, this is all the more apt, considering the two cabins are perfectly designed for two guests.
One of the cabins contains the bedroom and ensuite bathroom/shower, which can be accessed from the outside as well as the inside. The other hut contains a living room and kitchen area, furnished with side tables and linen-covered Gervasoni Ghost armchairs by Paola Navone.
Guests even get to enjoy the mod cons of wifi and a phone docking station. But if you’d rather get away from the tech, you also have access to a kayak parked on the pontoon, should you wish to explore the area on water.
From the cabins’ location you can see Carrasqueira Palafitic Wharf, an iconic harbour built on stilts which was created for the fishing community, allowing them to access their boats during low tide.
The cabins were assembled offsite and finished in locally sourced pine wood. It’s officially called costaneiros wood, which are the first and last boards sawn from the log.
For the interior of the cabins, the wood was exposed to the sun, in order to obtain its distinctive grey colour. On the outside, the wood is treated to make it resistant to the sea. Its appearance will also change over time due to being exposed to the sun, eventually resembling the wood on the inside.
“The project develops into two spaces: one to unwind with the support of a kitchen integrated in the same material of the walls; and the other as a sleeping area with a small bathroom and a shower. The forms, highly archetypal, are designed by the incorporation of these functions. The varied inclinations of the ceiling, position the spaces in tension, according to their function.”