The Primitive Hut for the Twenty First Century promises its guests to be a low-tech, high-efficiency experimental project by Sean Godsell Architects, Australia. Originally known as 'Future Shack' its properties enable remote housing in areas with extreme climate conditions, such as the Arizona desert.

There is no doubt that the team uses technology to enable the house to respond responsibily to environmental changes, however, the user is not involved too much. One low-tech solution employed is the attempt to emulate the human process of sweating by conserving rain water and then repeatedly spraying it on the roof to cool the building. Everything else is not so simple. The building envelope, or skin is a 'lightweight enclosing membrane' consisting of a protective outer layer composed of side by side tubular cells. They shade the building from radiant heat, control the entry of direct light, insulate from heat loss, convert solar radiation into electricity and hot water, filter out pollutants and incorporate advanced climate and intruder sensors.

The Primitive Hut is a 6.6 by 6.6 meter single room. Although each Hut is one among a community, the site is so sparsely populated that it feels autonomous. The landscape has little vegetation and is uneven. This allows each Hut to sit alongside one of many small hills. The idea was to provide a sense of 'getting away fom it all'. A central administrative building provides meals as well as entertainment for guests.

The project successfully decentralises energy production without placing too much faith in the hands of the building's end users. The house knows what is good for you on both a comfort and an economic level and you must abide by its ways. This passive 'advice' approach assigns the responsibility of regulating comfort to those in the know, ex. the architects and the material designers in a somewhat useful, yet condescending manner. Natural raw materials, gardens and the comfort of the hearth are provided as the first interface to the user.

'The Primitive Hut for the Twenty First Century' joined the Vitra Design Museum funded 'Open House' travelling exhibition in collaboration with the Art Center College of Design, and opened in Essen, Germany, in August 2006.


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