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2014 MCHAP.emerge

Cabin for Kids


Buenos Aires, Argentina

February 2006


Gustavo Dieguez Lucas Gilardi



Sabina Fracchia




The cabin was built in order to fulfill a need for more space in a home. The family grows and the house adapts itself to the growth. The house was rented and the owner accepted this construcction on the contidion that it be taken down once the lease ended.. The piece added to the existing building was built usign recycled, salvaged elements and with a wooden framework mounted in only ten days. Its interior includes a tiered area for matresses for the children, like bleachers over the playroom. On the outside, the tiered area is a high gallery that lets the light into the lower floor, where a piano studio was set up. At the very top, a light tube lets the stars be seen from the beds. Built from reused 8 mm and 15 mm thick phenolic plywood panels from packing cases from GM automobile parts and from old wooden beams from demolished buildings, the cabin has been constructed by using the technique of the balloon frame, with heat insulation on the inside of the panels, and for the roof, fiberglass as exterior insulation and sealing. The window in the roof can be opened so as to be able to ventilate the house and to accede to the room through a set of telescoping arms salvaged from an old car.


We understood our first built work under the name a77 as an opportunity to develop a system for DIY construction and growth in a time of crisis and shortages. This cabin is one of the first incarnations of a concept we call plug and live system, developed so that anyone can build something with whatever is at hand, rapidly and cheaply. The building system is based on the reuse of discarted materials. The use of lightweight materiales allows for modules that can be added to preexisting buildings in different urban and suburban contexts. This system is a device that moves bertween the generic structure of the catalogue and the particular nature of custom-making, between notions of industrialization and the handicraft whim of the amateur. The motivation for this system was nothing more than necessity and the desire to build directly, with as few mediations as possible, in contact with the materiales. This allows us to discover their intelligence, their own logic. It implies an open decision process in constant dialogue with found materials. Constructing things with what you have at hand is a work philosophy that not only activates the imagination, but also makes the fulfilment of dreams possible. It is not about defending realism, but quite the opposite. In a context of continual crisis, materials are expensive and nothing can be thrown away without transforming it into something else before it is entirely useless. That is why recycling, for us, constitutes a delay of uselessness.


The Project consisted in adding an extension to a house in a residential area on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. This children's cabin was built in a compund comprising five homes, with three at the back and two at the front. It occupies a space in the interior courtyard formed by the two semi-detached houses at the front. This courtyard was planned for further building for each of the houses. The cabin was very well received by the neighbors and was not only used as a bedroom; the children used it as a place for adventure, a shelter, a treehouse, a lookout point, a cockpit, a boat, a truck, a fun place to live and play and imagine. The children's cabin was used for five years, afterwhich it was taken apart and stored as a kit, while the actual house was returned to its owner in the conditions stipulated in the lease.

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