Backcountry Hut Company: Architectural Design & Business Model
by Sam Demas, October 12, 2016; All photos courtesy Backcountry Hut Company
The Canadian company Backcountry Hut Company (BHC) has completed its design and has constructed a prototype for a pre-fabricated, modular hut system. The design is optimized for alpine and other outdoor clubs, lodge operators, and also private outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Based on a conversation with BHC’s Wilson Edgar, this post is a brief description of the design concept, business model, and rollout plans.
The concept is based in part on the IKEA model of well-designed products that are affordable and easy to assemble. Wilson calls the architectural design “quiet”, i.e. environmentally sensitive, and suitable for both back-country and front-country (road accessible) sites. It also has resonances of the tiny house movement.
The modular design is based on timber-frame construction clad in pre-fab wall and roof panels. Each module is 14’ x 10’, with a roof beam of 27 feet, and comprises 191 square feet. Each module contains a sleeping loft and can sleep 2-4 people. The design is scalable, i.e. one can build a hut comprised of multiple modules: two modules is 527 square feet of living space (sleeping 8-12), three modules is 748 square feet (sleeping 12-18), and four modules would be 937 square feet (sleeping 16-24).
The modules are packed in a container and can be delivered to the site by helicopter. Modules are designed for easy assembly by groups of volunteers with minimal tools and construction experience. Site preparation instructions will include directions for installation of sono tubes on which the structures sit.
Huts will standardly include a wood stove and stove-pipe chimney, but owners can opt for other heat and utility options, including composting toilet, propane, and/or solar photo-voltaic power storage. The owner can build out interiors, or contract for that with BCH.
Wilson Edgar has partnered with architects Leckie Studios in developing the design and with high-end woodworkers cascadianwoodtech to do production. Leckie is a Vancouver architectural firm doing commercial and residential design with a particular interest in environmental sensitivity. Cascadianwoodtech is located on Vancouver Island and specializes in timber frame, millwork, and installations. They are committed to working with the finest local woods and the two principals appear to have remarkable training and experience.
The intent is to produce affordable accommodations for back and front-country applications. They are interested in the idea that sales of front-country units may help to subsidize backcountry installations.
Back Country Huts has sold its first unit, which will be installed soon. They will be coming out with a brochure and web site soon. Meanwhile, the best online sources of information appear to be http://www.leckiestudio.com/bhc/ and through their Facebook page.
I’ll report later on developments as this company rolls out its product in the coming year.