The iconic A-frame cottage, commonly known as THE "A-frame" in English seems to be regaining the hearts of new generations of designers and boaters. Its popularity is remarkable in social networks. With its vintage look and its triangular shape, these cottages embody the holiday refuge par excellence, to be modest about the objects that furnish the space!

Historic and pioneer cottages

Source: New York Times Archive, 1957

Although A-frame cottages are associated with American culture from the 60s to the 70s, these chalets existed well before the time when they were popularized. Sloping roof structures have existed in China for centuries and were used to cover small farms. In Polynesia, they were closely inspired by the sails of boats and sheltered families. Finally, the triangular constructions date back to the dawn of time, but it is towards the end of the 1950s that the A-frame reaches its target audience of vacationers, while the concepts of "second home", "pleasure home" and "cottage" seduce Americans. Architect Andrew Geller's beach house, Reese House, in Long Island, United States, is a benchmark for a triangular cottage. After being published in the New York Times in May 1957, the model inspired many American families to buy a second affordable home. Soon, Canadians were also charmed by the idea, and projects began in western Canada and then in the east. At the same time, Europeans were building steep-slope ski chalets, especially in Switzerland, to take advantage of winters in the mountains. The holiday concept was finally introduced!

Source: New York Times Archive, 1957

At the time, with these two walls sloping down the ground and these horizontal struts forming the A bar, it was relatively easy to build a triangle chalet in no time and without even asking the expertise of an architect. Between 1950 and 1975, the plans and construction kits, as well as the mail order plans generated by the plywood manufacturers, gave the impression that the "A Frame" cottages were a considerable improvement in housing. However, the shape of an A-frame house has its share of drawbacks. In particular, the loss of living space due to both slopes. In addition, the rapid construction, sometimes without foundation, left some houses in bad condition. However, this did not stop new generations from flirting with the idea of renovating or rethinking the design of the chalet triangle in their own way.

The modern / hybrid "a frame"

Published in Life Magazine in 1967 and other architectural blogs ever since, designer Jen Risom's A Frame Hybrid off the coast of Rhode Island has inspired many designers to adapt their designs for better purposes. Already at the time, he was a visionary! On the lookout for the needs of his family and modernity, during these last years of life, Risom has prepared its refuge for the next generation.

Source: Life Magazine in 1967

Source: Dwell Magazine

The triangular cottage certainly suggests a divergent structure of other types of cottages, but also a different lifestyle. The large fenestration at the ends directs the eye towards nature, while the central space is optimal when a minimum of furniture coexists. Minimalist is certainly the watchword to take advantage of an A-frame. If you're thinking about enlarging a room, move on! Space is bound to remain a triangle that throws all the attention outside and into the common space. Is not that a good thing? "There is this nostalgic idea to go to the cottage to play games with family or friends and have everyone sitting in the same room," said David Scott, Canadian architect and Whistler chalet owner. This desire to escape that animates new followers remains the same motive as these pioneering designers. Successful marketing, its triangular shape is almost immediately associated with the words: holidays, skiing, open air, family, rest. Finally, it leaves a positive impression that we tend to reproduce to break through our frantic pace of life.

In social networks, including Instagram, following accounts like @cabinporn and @thecabinchronicles you can already dream of escaping to one of these cottages both modest and luxurious. Considering the place that cottage blogs and other social accounts give them, many see it as a lucrative rental potential.

Source: Kimo Estate • Photo: Hilary Bradford

Kimo Estate, located in a rural area in the southeastern state of Australia, is a prime example of the A-frame rental project and glamping experience. David and Emelia Ferguson, owners of Kimo Estate, worked with architects Anthony & Luke (Anthony Hunt Design and Luke Stanley Architects). The essence of the project is the sense of community and sustainability of the homes to stand the test of time. We can say that it is successful! Considering their distance from major centres, they wanted to choose local materials, including durable Australian wood.

Source: Kimo Estate • Photo: Hilary Bradford

Source: Kimo Estate

The shape of the "huts", as they name them, is inspired by a classic "A" frame that serves both as a refuge and connection to the natural environment. The sloping hardwood structure anchors the building on the ground offering a magnificent unobstructed view of the surrounding farmland. Today, David and Emelia Ferguson create unique experiences in their rental cottages and lead the way in designing homes that are minimalist, durable and beautiful.

We can feel the resurgence of popularity among Quebec architects as well. In particular, Dominique Potvin, a Montreal designer, has renovated a microchalet with a very steep slope in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. The architects of La Shed architecture in Montreal are also interested in the frame house in A. They were seduced by the idea of revisiting its typical shape when designing the Chalet de la Plage project.

Finally, even if its atypical shape does not please everyone and its loss of space some architects flinch, the chalet triangle is part of timeless classics whose simplicity still charms many people. It will not be surprising to see more and more triangle chalets for rent online!

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