Cognate with its name, Fragile Shelter, this delicate wooden creation focuses on its outdoor surroundings in the Sapporo forest – all the more extraordinary when coated with a layer of snow. Offering a cozy design by Hidemi Nishida, there are six interconnected cabins, hovering above the snow line with translucent lights seen through the woods by night.
Nestled among the Kamnik Alps, this shelter for adventure-seeking climbers is atop the Skuta Peak, which is the third-tallest mountain in Slovenia. Hosting up to eight mountaineers at a time, the shelter boasts incredible views, with floor-to-ceiling glass and a sheer drop underneath, which may even give the most adventurous a bout of vertigo!
Pacific Northwest, USA
Along the Puget Sound coastline is the Garage, designed by Graypants, Inc. This mystical piece of architecture is bright and luminous from natural light due to its pitched roof with glass panels. The post-war garage is nestled among spruces, providing a contrast between old and new, normal and quirky, and providing scenic views over the coast.
Northeastern United States
A secret library hidden away in the forest of upstate New York called The Living Room, is a place where book worms could get lost for days as they work their way through the shelves layered in 2,500 books and novels. With its charred exterior, the place is most enchanting during snowy periods, where you can nestle up in the cozy room with the fire blazing, engulfed in a great read.
Waikato, New Zealand
Bored of your view? All you need is a tractor to move the sleds this house is built on! Aptly named, the Hut on sleds was designed like this due to being positioned on the designated erosion zone of the Coromandel Peninsula and needing to satisfy a removable planning condition. As a summer beach house, the slats can be shut during the colder months or when it’s not in use.
Sitting happily on the coast of Corsica is A life on the rock, designed by Atelier D’Architecture Aurélie Barbey. Basking in the Mediterranean sun, it’s situated between the woods, sea, sky, and imposing boulders, offering second-to-none views of the maritime horizon.
This stylish Pump House, designed by Branch Studio Architects, was originally commissioned to be a storage shed for a water pump and other equipment, where workers could have a cup of tea. The project became rather more extravagant, and now doubles as a self-sufficient lakeside retreat with rainwater tanks, wood heating and solar power.
Near Berlin, Germany
Originally a 1926 summer house, this lodge is sat here, in the middle of the forest, not far from a crystal lake, making it the perfect escape from the city. The Forest House was built as a complete wooden structure, the outside obscure, the inside white-painted pinewood, offering quite the contrast. The beauty of the area, especially when covered in snow, can be enjoyed from the warmth of inside, thanks to the expansive windows.
Julian Alps, Slovenia
Originally a first world war bunker, this magnificently-converted lodge is under the watchful eye of Slovenia’s tallest mountain, so you really will be looking up to the heavens, with epic sunsets! When the weather is tempestuous, you could imagine yourself back in time during the war, with howling winds and the blistering cold. Offering the perfect refuge at 2,000 metres, the architecture offers a coat of armour against the great outdoors.
On the eastern edge of Fogo Island, you will find the minimalistic Squish Studio on a rocky strip of coastline, designed by Saunders Architecture. With a dramatic entrance to the studio, intended to cultivate artistic inspirations, this is the place to set up office.
Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler’s Zielturm Rotsee (Finish Tower Rotsee) was originally built to accommodate officials of the annual rowing regatta. The structure looks similar to that of a game of jenga, especially due to the reflection, while the subtle offsets of the levels make the building look fragile and delicate. A long platform connects this tower to the shore – so don’t worry, you won’t be floating downstream!
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Bivacco Luca Vuerich was named after a deceased climber and commissioned by his family. You’ll have to pack light as the wooden cabin is atop the rugged mountains of the Julian Alps at 2,531 metres above sea level along a summit trail. Built in a day, this hideout for hikers, climbers, and visitors protects against the bitter winds and harsh cold.
To discover more quirky retreats, check out Gestalten’s range of architecture books here, which include The Hinterland, Rock the Shack, and Hide and Seek.