CAA creates a wooden cabin in the New Zealand countryside as a perfect art studio

New Zealand based practice, Copeland Associates Architects (CAA) has completed a prefabricated timber cabin overlooking Taihape town in Ruahine Range's shadow. Built with a desire to lower the carbon footprint, the cabin is assembled using prefabricated Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) components.

Located on the south-east facing slope of Ruahine Range overlooking the town of Taihape, this cabin's location was first discovered during a road trip. Inspired by the ever-changing light and beautiful views that the site offers, the architects decided to build an art retreat that would also serve as a base to explore Rangitikei–Manawatu landscapes.

Copeland Associates Architects
Copeland Associates Architects

The main space is focussed on a large window looking over the town and the ranges beyond.


The studio's internal layout features a main studio space on the ground floor, followed by a small kitchen and service areas at the rear end of the cabin. The cabin is accessed through a front porch, which is used as an outdoor deck to enjoy the views of the valley. Inside, large windows in the studio help frame the mountain range beyond and become the main focal point of the space. The mezzanine level features a simple bedroom under a mono-pitched roof along with some loft space.

The cabin's main structure is raised on a grid of wooden piles, consisting of prefabricated CLT panels. The building touches the ground lightly, causing minimal damage to the site.

"The panels, manufactured from cross-laminated timber, form floor, walls, and roof, and are exposed as an interior finish.  Many of the joinery fittings, including doors, kitchen and laundry benches, are made from offcuts of the same material. The exterior of the building is sheathed in corrugate metal sheeting, in keeping with local farm buildings," explains CAA.

Copeland Associates Architects | Section


Copeland Associates Architects
Copeland Associates Architects

CLT was chosen as a primary building material as it is sustainably produced, locally available, and limits the building's carbon footprint. It is also optimized for energy performance due to the high thermal mass of CLT panels coupled with good external insulation, which helps create a comfortable internal environment throughout the year.

Given the remote location of the site, prefabrication was the fastest way to build on-site. Precision-cut building panels came to the site on one single truck. These panels came pre-coded with construction sequence and were assembled on-site in two days by a local builder, followed by the installation of aluminium windows. The weatherproof shell was ready for internal finishing and external cladding in a week. The use of exposed structural panels significantly reduced the number of components and waste generated during construction.

Copeland Associates Architects | Massing diagram.
Copeland Associates Architects 

"To minimize waste and transport costs, the panels for the whole building came from the factory on a single truck, pre-coded for a sequence of construction.  Pallets, packing fillets and CLT factory offcuts were all saved to make joinery fittings including doors, cupboards, and benches." Said CAA.

Copeland Associates Architects | Panel transportation, axonometric drawing. 


This cabin perfectly showcases the significant advantages of using CLT as a primary building material and how prefabricating building components can help address several critical issues related to the construction industry.



Project Name: AB STUDIO

Architect: Copeland Associates Architects

Completion Year: 2018

Built Area: 63 sqm

Project Location: Taihape, New Zealand

Photographer: Copeland Associates Architects

Lead Architect: Ainsley O’Connell + Barry Copeland

Team: Tuhiena Bhaumik­ + Franklin Mwanza + Marco Duthie

Contractor: Crimpys Contracting LtD

Structural floor, wall, stairs and Roof panels: XLAM

Roofing and Cladding: Zincalume Corrugate

Insulation: Expol

Windows: Fletcher smart fit window system

Finishing oil on floors and staircase: WOCA Denmark oils



Copeland Associates Architects was established in 1997 by Barry Copeland after a successful career with eminent practices in Manchester, London and Auckland. The practice is rooted in substantial experience and the commitment to deliver an effective professional service to clients.  Its method focuses on achieving innovative economic solutions through elegant combination of spaces, materials and methods.   Its dynamic derives from a celebration of light, air and movement.  The underlying belief is in the important contribution that architecture has to make to society and to the environment for our future generations.