Wales’ first pop-up boutique hotel, the Epic Retreats Hotel is set to be opened at two unique glamping sites, consisting of eight individually designed units. Each unit is built using efficient construction techniques and is created to deliver the guests a unique experience within architecturally interesting surrounding. Moreover, the unique cabins bring to life the culture and heritage of Wales as well as encapsulating the strong aesthetic of the landscape in which they are situated.[justified_image_grid preset=18 ids=86368,86369,86370,86371,86372,86373,86374,86376,86375 caption=off]
The pod designs were chosen through a competition tender which invited architects from across the world to design unique glamping units themed on the mythology, tradition and beauty of Wales. Among the winners was Carwyn Lloyd Jones, the designer of Dragon’s Eye pod, which is inspired by the most famous of all the Welsh legends, the Welsh Dragon and brought to life using modern materials whilst embracing it’s enduringly menacing soul. With zinc and metal shingles used to create the impenetrable scale and a glass wall, the guest becomes the eye of the dragon viewing the landscape as the beast itself would. Recycled plastic and timber were used to construct the roof, and a wood burning stove in the bedroom brings the dragon’s fire to life. Finally, a rotating double bed is tucked in and recycled sheep’s wool used to insulate.
LuxExposé: What were some of the major influences that inspired the design of the Dragon’s Eye pod?
Carwyn Lloyd Jones: Had to make sure that you could see the view, no point being in the countryside and not seeing anything whether you were in bed or relaxing. organic shape.
LuxExposé: What was the research process like for you?
Carwyn Lloyd Jones: Finding pictures of dragons and working out how to make it work, and then choosing what kind of eye. How to create the scale skin.
LuxExposé: What influenced the choice of material used in designing the Dragon’s Eye pod?
Carwyn Lloyd Jones: It had to either blend in to the surrounding countryside or be totally different so I chose stainless steel, and black is a great contrast and by burning the wood it makes it blacker! If you look closer it looks more like reptile skin.
LuxExposé: What was the most challenging part while designing the cabin?
Carwyn Lloyd Jones: Fitting the bed in.
LuxExposé: What was the most rewarding part?
Seeing how other people react to seeing it.[justified_image_grid preset=18 ids=86387,86390,86388,86389,86391,86392,86393,86394,86395 caption=off]
Each architect was challenged with designing an authentic pod that brought Welsh legends to life; the designs embraced a variety of natural materials and efficient building techniques to deliver the architect’s vision. Rural Office for Architecture, a young architectural practice based near Newcastle Emlyn, West Wales, has created an intricate Black Hat unit, that stands proud on the landscape, just as the hats on the heads of the defiant women, who marched to the front line to defend their country, dressed in traditional scarlet tunics and tall black hats. LuxExposé had a chance to ask the team of Rural Office for Architecture, a few questions:
LuxExposé: What drew you to rural kind of architecture?
Rural Office for Architecture: We’ve been living and working in rural Wales for 12 years, as an antidote to city life. It offers a greater chance to be creative surrounded by nature.
LuxExposé: How did you come up with an idea to create a pod that resembles a tall stovepipe-style hat?
Rural Office for Architecture: The black hat is an iconic symbol of Welsh culture, something familiar to a nation with a proud heritage and culture. The hat sits elevated above the landscape acting as a beacon attracting visitors to the site. This height also then provides sleeping accommodation at the top of the hat, with a view up to the night stars.
LuxExposé: We know that the Black Hat pod was constructed using similar techniques as a tipi. What materials did you chose for covering and poles?
Rural Office for Architecture: The timber structure is made from slow growing spruce timber felled from a nearby forest. This is supported by a series of steel ring beams which tie the structure together. The black wrap that forms the hat is made from black canvas.
LuxExposé: What was the most difficult part of designing the Black Hat cabin?
Rural Office for Architecture: Working with different manufacturing processes, from the hand cut timber to the computer cut canvas.
LuxExposé: What interior for the Black Hat pod did you chose?
Rural Office for Architecture: The fabric for the interior lining was provided by Seld, local manufacturers of Welsh woolen fabrics.
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