This Connecticut retreat touches the ground lightly within woodland

This new creative Connecticut retreat combines generous interiors with a minimal footprint and light touch on the forest floor

Connecticut retreat named Forest Retreat by Scalar Architecture
(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

At just 1200 sq ft, this square Connecticut retreat in the woods is modest in size but grand in outlook. Designed by New York office Scalar Architecture, the cabin is sited in the midst of a forest clearing and accessible only on foot or by a light utility vehicle.

Connecticut Forest Retreat architectural cabin by Scalar Architecture

(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

Designing a Connecticut retreat in the woods

The site has a gradient, as well as a large boulder that neither client nor architect wanted to remove. To achieve this, the entire structure has been raised up on concrete piers, with a off-central square courtyard exposing the rock at ground level. The main entrance is at the top of the slope, offering views down the full length of the living and dining room.

Cabin-like interior of Connecticut retreat

(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

A secondary entrance takes you via a set of steps leading to a covered walkway that also doubles as a terrace, taking you around the rock to a door that opens directly into the main living space. 

Here, the ceilings reach up the full height of the façade, with large windows and thick timber mullions offering views into the woods.

Forest Retreat by Scalar Architecture

(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

Timber beams criss-cross the top half of the room, with steps that lead up to a kitchen and two identical, cell-like bedrooms and a bathroom. 

The clients are writers and producers, and the house is designed to be a creative retreat, offering respite from the city.

Timber walkway inside Forest Retreat by Scalar Architecture

(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

The pitched roof is inverted, creating an ‘impluvium’ that directs rainwater to storage. The walls and roof are clad in a leaf-resistant siding with no open gutters to clog up. High levels of insulation are packed into the structural wooden frame and the interior is clad and lined with timber boards. 

The end result is a refined box that perches above the forest floor, providing a warm space for quiet contemplation.

Aerial view of Forest Retreat in clearing in the woods

(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

Scalar Architecture was founded by the Spanish-born architect Julio Salcedo, a Harvard graduate who has also worked for Rafael Moneo and SOM. As well as completing projects in Central and North America, the practice is working on a sustainable park in Madrid. 

Forest Retreat at night

(Image credit: Miguel De Guzman)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.