What's a Crib for Adults?

By Jeffrey Broadhurst, Originally Published in Broadhurst Architects

The Crib, designed by architect Jeffrey Broadhurst, combines agricultural forms and eco-friendly materials to create a dream cabin.

The Crib at Strathmore is the prototype model of The Crib, an Enviresponsible Shelter, which is currently installed in the sculpture garden at the Strathmore Arts Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The Crib concept was conceived in response to the popularity of The Shack at Hinkle Farm which was designed by this firm several years ago.

Through the acclaim received by that project it became apparent that many people were interested in a small shelter that could serve as a weekend retreat, as a home yoga studio, as a backyard home office, or in multiples as cabins at an eco-resort. The current interest in such small buildings, in simplicity, and environmental responsibility has led this firm to design this prototype building with sustainable and recyclable materials that can be fabricated off site then transported and quickly assembled where desired.

This new building, The Crib, takes its basic form from traditional American corn cribs, which were common farm buildings that served to store and dry corn. However, here the form is realized as a more sophisticated kit of parts. The main structure consists of two shop-fabricated galvanized steel bents that combine the concept of traditional wood timber framing with the structural simplicity of common scaffolding systems. The floor and roof consist of structural insulated panels (SIPs) which are supported by engineered wood and steel beams that span between the bents. Prefabricated wall panels made of unpainted heat-treated native and sustainable poplar and recyclable translucent insulating multi-layer polycarbonate sheets are weather-stripped and clipped into the framework.
This simple but exceptionally sturdy structural concept allows considerable flexibility in the length of the building and degree and type of outfitting. There are currently three models of the building available.

The Crib was originally designed for a client who owned a remote site on Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County, Maryland for weekend recreational use to replace a dilapidated fishing cabin and accompanying outhouse. This original crib design was elevated eight feet above grade and about ten feet above mean water level on a masonry foundation to respond to the fact that the entire 27 acre site was on a flood plain.

The full-height foundation was designed to contain a bathroom, a small bedroom, and mechanical and storage spaces. A small propane-fired stainless steel fireplace and a radiant floor system provide heat to the structure. Solar hot water and photovoltaics may also be considered. A small but well-outfitted “kitchen in a box” was designed to occupy the entry gable wall.
The building was designed to resist rodents, bears, and undesirable visitors by securely closing down when not in use. Wood shutters secure the ground-level openings, the west-facing awning swings down to cover and protect the glass door/wall, and the aluminum stair system hinges up off of the ground and locks in an inaccessible position.

Other features include LED/CFL lighting and a ladder-accessed loft. An insulated glass garage door generously opens to a small deck connecting the interior spaces to the landscape and views of the landscape beyond.The enviresponsible aspects of The Crib include the following features:
  • Very small and efficient floor plans.
  • Minimal site disturbance.
  • Efficient shop fabrication process and quick on-site assembly process.
  • High insulation values using Structural Insulated Panels, insulated glass, and multi-layer polycarbonate panels.
  • Efficient propane fireplace and/or radiant floor heat system.
  • Materials with high recycled content including steel, aluminum, and rubber.
  • Recyclable materials including steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and polycarbonate.
  • Earth-friendly non-finished heat-treated poplar for siding and limited interior finishes.
  • Rain water collection system for showers and gardening.
  • Energy efficient LED and CFL light sources.
  • Energy efficient ceiling fan “air conditioner”.
  • The entire building is recyclable in that it can be dismantled and relocated to another site.

05/26/2014