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Camping with Dad Just Got Cooler

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A vision of an archetypal little cabin in the woods—reinterpreted with a contemporary aesthetic and a sustainable footprint—inspired Bill Yudchitz and his son, Daniel, both architects, to put their years-long dedication to the small home movement into action five years ago. "Everything we saw was ugly, corny, and Spartan," says Yudchitz. "We wanted to prove that architecture can be artful and soulful, but still tiny, affordable, and green." With Yudchitz’s practice, Revelations Architects/Builders, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and Daniel working for architecture and engineering firm HGA in Minneapolis, the experiment would also yield a pair of weekend retreats for their families. 

Architect Bill Yudchitz asked his son, Daniel, to help him create a self-sustaining multi-level family cabin in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Finding lakeside land proved surprisingly daunting; many idyllic spots, such as Wisconsin’s Door County, have zoning ordinances with minimum size requirements larger than what the Yudchitzes planned to build. In September 2009, after seeing dozens of sites, they landed a 2.78-acre lot with water access on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay for $52,500. It’s 2.6 miles outside Bayfield, Wisconsin, population 530, and about a four-hour drive from each of their homes. 

A standing-seam steel roofing panel clads a portion of the exterior, while the aluminum pipes also serve as the railing for the roof deck. The family cooks all their meals at the fire pit outside.

Floor-to-ceiling doors from Sierra Pacific Windows open the structure to the elements and provide a protective layer when not in use.

Four months later, they completed a cabin they christened the EDGE (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment), a striking rectangular structure clad with a white-oak rain screen, topped with a playful butterfly roof, and sporting integrated multifunctional furnishings that doubled the livability of its 325 square feet (plus two 85-square-foot sleeping lofts), Yudchitz estimates. But because of the two men’s admiration for Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor’s exquisite construction details, it was built with the painstaking precision of a Swiss watch—and it was pricey. "It cost at least $100,000 to build because the materials were crafted to within .002 inches, so it’s expensive for what it is," says Yudchitz.  

Nest’s main room, lined in aspen plywood with a Douglas fir floor, has folding chairs found on eBay and a fold-out birch table designed by the team.

"As an antidote, we built Nest," he quips. They started work on the structure—about 130 feet away from their EDGE cabin, but hidden by the woods and plopped on a platform of treated framing lumber supported by concrete piers—in July 2013. Working only on weekends, the pair completed Nest in a little over a year. To mitigate costs, they used leftovers from prior projects and filled it in with newly purchased supplies, making an exact budget tough to pin down. "Not counting time, it will take between $15,000 and $25,000 to build the Nest, depending on materials selection," says Yudchitz, who believes almost anyone can do the job from their plans. "We managed, and we’re not finish carpenters. The only tool we used that required any real skill was a miter box. The Murphy bed was the hardest thing in the place to make," he says. 

The sleeping bag is from Gander Mountain. A Murphy bed provides more sleeping space downstairs.

One corner holds a refillable water jug and a stainless-steel washbasin.

Measuring only 9 by 10 feet and standing 12 feet high, Nest is a smidgen taller than a typical storage shed. But the similarities stop there; true to the Yudchitzes’ vision, it’s artful and soulful. The standard lumber used for the framing and sheathing gets a dose of modern style from black metal panels on three sides; they’re actually standard  standing-seam roofing with a Kynar finish. The fourth side, facing south and overlooking the lake, is edged in standard residential glass patio doors. Awning windows top them, and floor-to-rooftop doors border the window wall and swing open to form an enclosed porch, or close to protect the structure when it isn’t in use. They’re made of white-oak rain-screen panels and lined with aspen plywood. The flat roof is also an observation deck and overhangs the doors by four feet as a shield from the elements. Behind the structure is an outdoor shower, fed by a sand-filtered water cistern that funnels water off the roof.

Daniel hangs a folding chair, Shaker style, on the wall adjacent to the entrance. The room gains extra light through slivers of space between the slats of the floor above. Structural two-by-fours and framing were left raw.

Inside, the space morphs for lounging, eating, and sleeping, thanks to its fold-out, drop-down furnishings made out of Baltic birch plywood. Collapsible chairs come down off of walls; a table and bed fold out of the same; a wash-basin, fed by a two-gallon water jug, slides out from a corner; and a ladder along the wall leads to a nine-by-five-foot sleeping loft. From there, another ladder leads to the rooftop that adds another 90 square feet to the cabin—in good weather. Without a refrigerator or stove, food is fresh and cooked outdoors on a camping grill, "so if it rains, we head to town to eat," Yudchitz says with a laugh. Solar lanterns charged outside come inside to light the space at night.

A rainwater catchment system feeds a cistern and outdoor shower. The Butterfly chairs are from Hayneedle.

Aluminum pipes were repurposed as ladder steps leading from the sleeping loft to the roof deck.

The family is at their Nest at least three weekends a month from spring to fall. (They head to EDGE in winter.) Yudchitz says the house can hold "three adults; two adults and two kids; or four adults if they’re young and in love." He’s most proud of the fact that "we did a lot with a little." And he’s pleased that they were able to pack everything they wanted into such a minute footprint.  

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chrisrosa
2 hours ago
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yes please
San Francisco, CA
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chrisrosa
4 days ago
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Love this service.
San Francisco, CA
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Elago Launches iPhone Mount Sorta Shaped Like the Original Mac

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This new stand is not nearly as adorable as their Apple Watch stand.

I can’t handle how much they had to stretch the shape to fit an iPhone. An iPad’s aspect ration is much better suited for this…

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chrisrosa
4 days ago
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so cute. vintage-y iphone stand.
San Francisco, CA
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Nvidia 1080ti with new drivers in external enclosure quadruples MacBook Pro native performance

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Enthusiasts have wasted no time in testing the new Nvidia Pascal video card drivers, and have found external GPU performance nearly four times that of the Radeon Pro 450 in the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
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chrisrosa
8 days ago
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San Francisco, CA
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In-browser Mac OS 7.0.1 emulation, compatible software suite arrives at the Internet Archive

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A pair of 20MB hard drive compilations contain a full MacOS 7.0.1 environment that runs in a browser, and contains an assortment of applications spanning from 1984 to 1991 has appeared on the Internet Archive, with the entire bundle able to be run inside Safari.
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chrisrosa
8 days ago
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This brings back some memories.
San Francisco, CA
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2 public comments
josephwebster
8 days ago
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Back to when Macs were insanely great.
Denver, CO, USA
JayM
9 days ago
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Heh. Cool.
Atlanta, GA

SolarSinter : markus kayser

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Solar Sinter
2011

In August 2010 I took my first solar machine - the Sun-Cutter - to the Egyptian desert in a suitcase. This was a solar-powered, semi-automated low-tech laser cutter, that used the power of the sun to drive it and directly harnessed its rays through a glass ball lens to ‘laser’ cut 2D components using a cam-guided system. The Sun-Cutter produced components in thin plywood with an aesthetic quality that was a curious hybrid of machine-made and “nature craft” due to the crudeness of its mechanism and cutting beam optics, alongside variations in solar intensity due to weather fluctuations.

In the deserts of the world two elements dominate - sun and sand. The former offers a vast energy source of huge potential, the latter an almost unlimited supply of silica in the form of quartz. The experience of working in the desert with the Sun-Cutter led me directly to the idea of a new machine that could bring together these two elements. Silicia sand when heated to melting point and allowed to cool solidifies as glass. This process of converting a powdery substance via a heating process into a solid form is known as sintering and has in recent years become a central process in design prototyping known as 3D printing or SLS (selective laser sintering). These 3D printers use laser technology to create very precise 3D objects from a variety of powdered plastics, resins and metals - the objects being the exact physical counterparts of the computer-drawn 3D designs inputted by the designer. By using the sun’s rays instead of a laser and sand instead of resins, I had the basis of an entirely new solar-powered machine and production process for making glass objects that taps into the abundant supplies of sun and sand to be found in the deserts of the world.

My first manually-operated solar-sintering machine was tested in February 2011 in the Moroccan desert with encouraging results that led to the development of the current larger and fully-automated computer driven version - the Solar-Sinter. The Solar-Sinter was completed in mid-May and later that month I took this experimental machine to the Sahara desert near Siwa, Egypt, for a two week testing period. The machine and the results of these first experiments presented here represent the initial significant steps towards what I envisage as a new solar-powered production tool of great potential.

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chrisrosa
13 days ago
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3D Printing with sand and the sun.
San Francisco, CA
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