Gear Shed

Volga Dacha: Redefining Minimalism

Architectural firm Bureau Bernaskoni went against the grain when it designed this no-frills Russian getaway.

volga dacha moscow cabin minimalism getaway russia countryside

    Photo: Buro Bernaskoni

“Minimalism” is one of the outdoor-gear industry’s most pervasive buzzwords, and it’s invaded more than just running. People are adopting the idea of eschewing clutter in their homes, too. 

The Volga Dacha, located outside of Moscow in the country, is one of the best examples we’ve seen of an efficient four-person home. Even the getaway’s shape avoids frills: a simple gabled rectangle with blackened-wood cladding. When the family’s away, shutters cover the windows and doors.

This Volga Dacha (literally, “a small vacation cabin on the Russian river Volga”) located in the country outside of Moscow is one of the best examples we’ve seen of a simple, efficient four-person home. Even the getaway’s shape avoids unnecessary frills: a simple gabled rectangle with blackened-wood cladding. When the family’s away, shutters cover the windows and doors.

Architects from the firm Bureau Bernaskoni used a grid based on building-material sizes to plan the house, which measures just under 1,000 square feet. A small wood stove and radiant concrete floors heat this well-insulated home during Russia’s brutal winters. In the summer, the floors stay naturally cool and are easy to clean.

The cabin has two sleeping spaces, living and dining rooms, a kitchen, a bath, and generous terraces. A shed—essentially a smaller version of the main house—forms the courtyard. Even the lawn, surrounded by wild grasses, is maintenance-free, thanks to the geotextiles that were placed on a sand bed and then covered with gravel. 

The main floor’s living, dining, and kitchen areas are open to one another and to countryside breezes. The only deviation from the cabin’s standard grid? The minimal outdoor shower adjacent to the house. 

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