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10 Rural Design Escapes for City Dwellers

For city dwellers, stepping beyond the bounds of their urban realm, seeking escape in a natural context, can help to renew and reinvigorate both spirit and morale. Where architecture and design meet nature on its own terms, what follows is often an extraordinary and life-enhancing moment. This selection of rural design escapes offers just a handful of such moments.

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada

Designed by the renowned Saunders Architecture, Fogo Island Inn is a striking island structure comprised of 29 guest suites, a cinema, sauna, contemporary art gallery, gym and heritage library. The timber-clad inn is built on stilts, its erection a gesture to the architectural expression of Fogo Island’s houses and its traditional fishing “stages”. Located 45 minutes by ferry from the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island also houses a succession of contemporary artist studios. Complementing the inn, they too were designed by Saunders Architecture.

Photos © Saunders Architecture.

Forest Retreat, Bohemia, Czech Republic

This cabin forest retreat in Bohemia in the west of the Czech Republic was designed by Uhlik Architekti. A demonstration of working with nature, the cabin is angled upwards; propped against a boulder, it is given a raised outlook and platform. Built with local materials, the cabin’s exterior walls are clad with charred wood in order to provide a protective layer, whilst its interior walls are lined with an engineered wood particle board. The space is divided into two areas: a level space for dining and a series of steps that can be used for sitting, sleeping and storage.

Photos by Jan Kudej via Dezeen.

Greek holiday retreat, Tinos, Greece

This small holiday bolt-hole can be found on the Greek island of Tinos. The century-old abandoned structure, previously a stone stable, was remodelled by design savvy Greek architect Ioannis Exarchou. The original structure was maintained, with the interior walls freshly plastered and a new concrete floor laid. The bijou abode comprises a dining nook, kitchen, bathroom and courtyard on one level. An area in which to rest and sleep is accessed on a lower level.

Photos © Sylvia Diamantopoulos via Dezeen.

Hideg House, Kőszeg, Hungary

Hideg House is a contemporary woodland retreat situated on the edge of Kőszeg, an old historic town west of Budapest. Sited in what was once an old quarry, this holiday retreat was designed by  Béres Architects, a young Hungarian architectural studio. Its frame is made with stained black larch cladding and is comprised of two sections: the main living residence and a self-contained guest suite, with both areas connected by a sheltered open terrace. The interior of the house uses larch, but compared to the exterior has a vividly contrasting smooth and natural finish.

Photos © Tamás Bujnovszky via CONTEMPORIST.

Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites, Aran Islands, Ireland

The award-winning Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites was dreamt up and established in 2007 by proprietors Marie-Thérèse and Ruairí de Blacam. It can be found on Inis Meáin, a small island in Galway Bay just off Ireland’s breathtaking west coast. With its restaurant and five suites, Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites offer the visitor an ‘off the beaten track’ enchanting island getaway. The residence is finished in hand-carved local limestone and the simple pared down interiors of each suite, with their uninterrupted panoramic views, provide space for quiet solace and respite.

Photos © Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites.

ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, Iceland

Whether it’s a quiet rest or an adventurous escapade, ION Luxury Adventure Hotel will offer both and more besides. Located under an hour by car from Reykjavík, ION sits by Iceland’s “Golden Circle” route and is the perfect base from which to venture and explore. The hotel’s modern architectural form contrasts beautifully with the surrounding mountains and is accentuated under the majesty of the Northern Lights.

Photos © 2015 ION Luxury Adventure Hotel.

Juvet Landscape Hotel,Valldal, Norway

Juvet Landscape Hotel can be found in Valldal, close to the town of Åndalsnes in north western Norway. Juvet offers a fusion of nature with modern architecture and design. Sited on a precipitous river bank and surrounded by trees, seven detached guest rooms are perched on stilts, their huge panoramic windows framing nature’s lush spectacle. The Juvet Landscape Hotel was designed by Jensen & Skodvin Arkitektkontor, whose intention was to conserve the surrounding topography of the area. In harmony with the environment, visitors are in essence guests of nature.

Photos © Knut Bry via Juvet Landscape Hotel.

Sweeney’s Bothy, Eigg, Inner Hebrides

A bothy is typically a traditional small wooden shelter found mainly in Scotland. The Bothy Project is a curious and creative network of small-scale and off-grid art residency spaces, located around Scotland and beyond. Sweeney’s Bothy was created by The Bothy Project in partnership with artist Alec Finlay. A custom built off-grid abode, this modest bothy offers the opportunity for an intimate and creative experience in the Scottish wilderness.

Photos © The Bothy Project Ltd.

Tree Snake Houses, Pedras Salgadas Park, Portugal

Situated in Pedras Salgadas Park, a holiday retreat north east of Porto in Portugal, are two simple and modern structures that add a reptilian disposition to what is a historic wooded landscape. These two coexisting Tree Snake Houses were designed by Lisbon-based Rebelo de Andrade Studio and take their inspiration from the long and sinuous reptile that is their namesake. The distinctive snake-like houses, with their slate and wood facades, are raised on stilts and glide amongst the trees.

Photos via Pedras Salgadas Park.

Glamping, Yang-Pyeong, South Korea

Camping has acquired an entirely updated and glamorous form with these luxury tents in Yang-Pyeong, South Korea. Designed by Hee-Jun Sim and Su-Jeong Park of ArchiWorkshop, ‘Glamping’ offers campers amenities not normally associated with camping in the great outdoors, including custom-made sofa beds, bathrooms and privacy screens. Tents are constructed using a steel frame with a resilient double-layered membrane and have two variations: the Stacking Doughnut unit and the Modular Flow unit. Each cleverly combines comfort, design and access to nature in one user-friendly package.

Photos by June Young LIM via ArchiWorkshop.

Gerard McGuickin

Gerard is a writer, a thinker and a modern-day gentleman living in a modish neighbourhood in south Belfast. Walnut Grey Design is his popular manifesto of good design. From Gerard’s discerning perspective, design should be aesthetic, smart, honest and gratifying. Moreover, it must be for keeps. A self-confessed urbanite, Gerard is enthralled b[...]

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