An Off-Grid Micro Cabin in Upstate New York Inspired by Thoreau

The 500 sq ft cabin represents 'introverted architecture,' encouraging guests to embrace solitude and reconnect with nature

An Off-Grid Micro Cabin in Upstate New York Inspired by Thoreau


Field Mag


Marco Petrini

Courtesy of your highly caffeinated and ever thankful editorial team at FM HQ

It's no secret we're big fans of micro cabins. Sure, a grand mountain chalet would be nice, but a modest little cabin hidden in the woods feels just right—the perfect retreat from daily life. And much more attainable too (this guy built a tiny A-Frame for just $8k).

Which leads us to today's bit of architectural inspiration—the Edifice cabin, located in the Catskills Mountains some two hours northwest of our very own New York City.


Deemed an example of "introverted architecture or neo-transcendentalism" by designer and owner Marc Thorpe, the 500 square foot off-grid cabin finds inspiration in the words of famed transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau and acts as a personal retreat where one can seamlessly sink into nature without the distractions of everyday urban life.

"Transcendentalism is defined as a belief in the inherent goodness of people and nature. The belief that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual and that people are at their best when truly self-sustaining and independent," writes Thorpe of the building's underlying concept. "In the architecture of the edifice, this is exhibited through its physical isolation, essentialist programming and self-sustaining infrastructure. The building sits quietly among the trees, in perfect balance with its environment."


The black box design appears sculptural with no visible entry when initially approached—one has to walk around the structure to find the entrance, simulating the experience of examining art to find a deeper meaning.

Yes, the whole build concept is heady as hell. And we love it.


Small in footprint and impact, the structure is a true minimalist's dream come true. Four zones divide the surprisingly spacious rectangular space, providing rooms for sleeping, cooking, eating, and living, with a covered porch for straight up chilling.

Cedar clads the entire structure, blackened on the outside, raw on the inside. A wood burning stove heats the cabin during colder months, and water from rain catchment systems is used for cooking and in the shower. A composting toilet handles the rest of the bare essential functions.

What more could one want?


Published 01-16-2020