Bold Estonian cabin offers secluded forest stays

KÄBI is a contemporary Estonian cabin by b210 Architects, a modernist oasis for two with a backdrop of birch trees

Nature Villa KÄBI is an estonian cabin by b210 Architects
Nature Villa KÄBI in Estonia by b210 Architects
(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

The Nature Villa KÄBI is an ultra-compact hotel, set in the grounds of a 15th-century manor house in the Estonian town of Maidla, about 50km south of Tallinn. Designed by architects Mari Hunt and Arvi Anderson of b210 Architects, the 38 sq m Estonian cabin combines traditional timber construction with an unconventional geometry.

Nature Villa KÄBI by b210 Architects

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

KÄBI: a modern Estonian cabin

Set deep in a birch forest, the contemporary cabin is named ‘KÄBI’ after the Estonian word for conifer cone. The Tallinn-based studio describe the structure as a ‘pocket of warmth’ in the chilly northern climate, and the layered timber siding gives off a warm and welcoming vibe.

Estonian cabin in woods

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

This construction technique dates back many centuries, and the opportunity to use it on the interior and exterior walls not only gives the structure its conifer cone-like looks but is a climate-friendly choice of material. ‘All 7,500 tiles used on the walls of KÄBI were custom-made specially for this house by a local timber detail company – we want the house to be a bit of a celebration of the local craftsmanship and building tradition,’ says Hunt. 

Textured wood exterior detail and view into Estonian cabin, Nature Villa KÄBI by b210 Architects

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

The plan is rectangular, with functional elements housed in seven square structures set at 45 degrees to the main space. It’s a bold geometric approach that evokes the eclecticism of post-war East European modernism, creating a dynamic and intriguing interior. It also references the work and ethos of the late Estonian designer Bruno Tomberg.

Armchairs and sofa inside Estonian cabin by b210 Architects

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

Designed for occupation by one person or a couple, the room is set deep in the woods, away from other buildings. Leaf cover gives more privacy in the summer months, but the beauty of the snowy forest and far-reaching views gives winter visits a different character.

Cabin bedroom with bed facing huge window with view of woods

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

The external decks and steps are set at 45 degrees to the main space, with large spans of glazing set between the timber-clad boxes housing the functions. The toilet and shower each have their own, top-lit spaces, while there is also a large storage area and a stove. The bed is aligned to this off-set grid, set before a huge window overlooking the forest.

skylight above bathroom space

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

At the far end of the space, a small glass-walled terrace leads to a circular sauna for bathing in the heart of the woods. The entire structure touches the ground lightly on structural columns, sensitively slotted into its site.

Looking up through wood-clad lightwell

(Image credit: Tõnu Tunnel)

The new cabin is one of three architect-designed structures on the Maidla Nature Resort site and was recently nominated for an Estonian Architecture Awards.

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.