We have always had a big thing for sheds, huts and cabins, a space for creativity, contemplation and escape from the complexity of modern life. The domestic garden shed can be a wonderful thing but it’s living in a hut or cabin in the woods that really fires our imagination.
Severin Carrell’s article in yesterdays The Guardian explored the resurgence of ‘hutting’ in Scotland and promotes a new campaign the Thousand Huts which champions the revival of hutting as a way of life.
Huts, simple wooden structures deep in the countryside without electricity, mains drainage or piped water are weekend or holiday shacks for city dwellers. Often in small communities of similar buildings they have a low impact on the surrounding countryside but give people an opportunity to reconnect with nature. The article comments how hutting takes its lead from Scandinavian countries and we remember driving through Sweden and looking with envy at the huts that line the lakeshores and examples in Skansen the wonderful open air heritage museum in Stockholm.
What is particularly interesting is the potential for shifts in planning laws to protect hut communities from eviction and the article illustrates this with changes in Wales to promote low-impact, low-carbon homes. I’m not sure that this is the quite the same thing as informal communities of huts and there is a fine line between protecting hutting and eroding a spirit of adventure, informality and connection with nature, but another initiative by the Forestry Commission to set up ‘woodland crofts’ sounds of more interest.
It is an inspiring article and nudged us in to revisiting some of our earlier story cushions which showed huts in the forest (see our headline image) and to create new designs. We also must re-read our well-thumbed copy of Henry Thoreau’s ‘Walden – Life in the Woods’ which documents his construction of a hut in the forest in Massachusetts in 1845 and an attempt to live a simpler life with a stronger connection with nature, definitely one of TheBigForest new year resolutions for 2012.