When it comes to cabins, more often than not the simpler the design the better. Though the traditional open-plan longhouse design—defined by communal living spaces and a separate freestanding toolshed—isn’t suited for all sites. Such is the case with this rural Wisconsin located cabin. So, Wilwaukee-based Johnsen Schmaling Architects took the conventional cabin design, and literally flipping it on its head. Or, rather, stacked it that way. With the aptly named Stacked Cabin as result.

Set into a hillside at the end of a long abandoned logging road an hour or so from Madison, the unique cabin confines all the conventional cabin components to a single structure. Though just 880-square-feet in size, the three-level structure features a small workshop, mudroom, and storage space on the ground floor, an open main space centered around a wood burning stove, galley kitchen, and a pair of bunk rooms, and a small study on the top floor acting as an observatory.

Local materials were used when and where appropriate, including concrete, cedar, anodized metal, and cementitious plaster. The muted hues reflect the stark surrounding landscape. Massive floor-to-ceiling windows bookend the main room, literally inviting the outdoors in during the summer months—the clever design encourages cross ventilation and eliminate a need for mechanical air conditioning—while remaining closed for insulation in the winter.

Room-length curtains close off the bunk rooms and kitchen when not in use, creating a dimension of intimacy otherwise lost without them. The bright curtains and light interior materials helps brighten up the place during the region’s notoriously long and harsh winters.

if this is what Johnsen Schmaling Architects design when on a budget. We can’t wait to see what they create with future clients.